Friday, January 18, 2013





People like Whitman, Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Charles Ives, their great spiritual accomplishments were triumphs of intense solitude. Artistically isolated, if not also socially, they were able to create something stark and bare and exulted. That is a different sort of energy than joining the group effort. Solitude is sacred, solitude is divine – the opposite instinct of all cults.

Prophets and founders promise heaven, if not the world to their followers. They become part of a group that exceeds any and all of them: the group dynamism is supercharged. My divinity is not like that, I don’t bring you into that.. I would be a mirror to you, and show you your exulted soul. You don’t know, perhaps, how uniquely divine you are. I myself had to believe in my project when nobody else would or could. Be it madness, be it vanity, it is utter self-expression. People like Thoreau, Charles Ives, Emily Dickinson, Whitman had no artistic peers. Solitude is divine. Yet all those people were sharply and utterly influenced and inspired by Emerson. He is the American God. I am too. I strive in all my writings to be just that, to open inner worlds in those around me, in those who read me. That is my cult, that is my religion, that is my place.

Reflection, self-reflection, is our intensifier, how we sink deeper into the ether of our being. Thus the practice of mirror meditation. But art is another sort of mirror, a magic mirror, with language that evokes the ambiguous and otherwise unknowable nuances of the inner heart. That is why we give ourselves over to our project, why we delight in it, why we delight in each other.

Authors like Nietzsche and Ayn Rand appeal to adolescents, who are glad to interpret their sense of alienation as a sign of distinction and superiority. Having made that stepping stone, we ought not stop. Our self-exultation can be as humble or as loud as we care to make it, but we must believe in ourselves and find ways to utterly secure our Necessity to our Project, to find the expression, the dance of life, that wins us the game.

Friendships open up a part of us otherwise blocked, perhaps painfully blocked. Our cramped desires, that libidinal energy, is freed to flow and create. But if it is not worked into a beautiful circuit, it bleeds out and is gone. We can readily express it into the synergy of free-floating social energy. Careers, churches, patriotism all plug us into a great machine which both energizes us and uses us. Art, after all, speaks to all of us. Drama bypasses handicap, successful art reaches the proud, the guilty, the strong, the weak.

Limits comfort, limits allow. They show us boundaries and propriety. Marriage is a beautiful institution, yet every honest spouse naturally comes to question it now and then. If we wished to annul it or destroy it, we have protocol, we have the normal taboos that will bust it, the laws that will divorce it. We can nevertheleess choose such a playing field to exult and explore our soul and those we love. The becomes a world, a place to work. We each choose a scale to work on. Emily Dickenson in her poems is willing to make a world of the bird that hops and bites a worm in half and flies away. That simple little territory becomes a lens of the all for her. Whitman preferred using the entire continent as his playing space, and his catalogs haphazardly leave nothing out. Emerson’s initial personal journals were proudly called “the wide world,” and he dreamed an angel guided him to eat the entire planet as an apple. Thoreau, meanwhile, makes his epic all about one solitary pond, whose banks will be poetically described, whose ebbs and flow and fish and birds will be enjoyed in serene bliss. What matters, after all, if your world is large or small so long as you can fill it and animate it?

We come to earth to each master time and space, though time and space are ultimately paradoxical and unthinkable in any ultimate scientific or philosophical sense. We structure our personal space, our social space, we give our time to employment, to projects. We master space with our personal sphere and our owned objects, how we move. Poetry and dance is how we move through time and space. Literal dance and poetry is merely an epitomized exaggeration.

Intimate friendships open up the most intense of experiences. Nothing compares. Crossing the border, sharing the space, opening the heart to another – if we can – is the joy of life. A stream of excitements open the possibility, but some stark image is necessaryto  break us into bliss, as a man making love when he hears his name called exults in bliss.

A few people, a tight group of friends, are in league, they feed each other’s soul. When one presents a personal problem, the other absorbs it, suffers it, digests it, and then expresses the solution, either directly or indirectly. We build tight circuits with our desire, and taboos and propriety hold them into place. Having that friend to open us up – there is nothing like it. Being above the law – breaking taboo is invigorating. All great leaders have done so and needed to do so.

Our fantastic space redoubles the mundane sphere. How to reconcile the fantastic sphere to the domestic? Joseph Smith was able to cure a paralyzed limb and cast out demons, but not save his twins from dying in childbirth, or allieve his wife’s intense suffering, or save one of their soon adopted twins from death by measles. I knew a faith healer, an aspiring charismatic healer gifted by the holy spirit. She wished to heal my mentally challenged daughter. She was unable, however, to cure her own bipolar brother who was meanwhile languishing. I recall my own father attempting the faith cure on his schizophrenia, foregoing the meds and thus losing the marriage. I also dream infinite dreams, yet remember to take my meds. We need an ultimate groundwork, we can’t let ourselves be lost in dreams.

To create the heavens we seek, we need an anchor on earth. Independence requires simplicity, a simple and tight set of versatile tools to establish a project. For myself, it is a blankbook, a backpack, a clipboard, a laptop, a minimum of files. I streamline my friendships, I simplify everything. I learn to revolt ideas that disturb my goal. Conscience is really moral peer pressure, and changes and contradicts itself depending on what social group we abide. Different Gods or ideals know on our door depending on where we lay our bed. For simplicity’s sake, I ignore as much as I can, and limit myself.

Whitman had to set limits on himself, on his poetry. He decided to become the Nation’s Poet and then became so. But his homoerotic love met a pitch when transmuted to camaraderie and democratic love. There it capped out. So our shames are delighted in under other names. We require a language, a self-defined language, to manage our shames and limits and excesses and daring. How to express your whole heart, your whole soul and leave nothing out, to utterly empty your love for the infinite beloved. It is a question for Ama, and she gives me ecstasies. I would bring my lovers as close as this, I would express the innermost sublime. I feel with Whitman when he admired the solitary tree – “uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend, a lover near .. I know very well I could not.”

How many of us can like Charles Ives work in solitude on our symphonies, without audience, without milieu, without orchestra, for two solid decades, with only the sincere appreciation of a wife? Or Dickinson, whose entire spiritual world lay hidden in her closet, in her thousand poems she scarcely shared?

Whitman admired oratory, made plans and schemes to lecture. They never came place. Joseph Smith existed only in his oratory and never revealed his heart. Emerson, the American God, managed to both reveal himself and gain popularity.

I become naked to expose you. The hero won’t be mothered, and gossamer tears in a fight, yet I would be both visible and yet secluded. When we are utterly alone, perhaps to the point of suicide and utter ruin, we may consult our spark and know that this is not mere “flesh hanging from soul,” but our being and our place is right, the body is a temple, that we must exult in what we have. Sexual liberty is the outside fantasy of familial duty. Wherever we are we feel the push and pull of being somewhere else. Globetrotters, we would be rooted; farmers we would be treasure hunters. In all this we seek a friend who is all these things for us, through which, by loving sympathy, we do them. Ama, my heart is for you. And every aspect, every glint that comes to me, those of my spark, I warmly welcome you. A word of love? A midnight whisper? I would always clutch you close to my soul, and join you in your solitude.



\~ @M@ ~/


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