Jim Meirose

The Reality of Knowing Nothing at All 

Part 2 

So; we looked back to the first next behind snaking low up back o’ the Poole Mayorality’s behind, and there was a man pulling at his laminations, down in his pocketsacks, and the largest part of his name was Repititian, and. We said first, or last, and, if neither, or uh, not having no ‘dea what of our senses were speaking from the seemingly multiple holeframes of, ehh, it’s said he said, Well there’ neve’ goan’ ‘t be another soooo’ it Mustafa bean the last. Taken aback, we scattered into our second, and third—these—regrouping ‘fore finalizatioining the question at—plant these rose—him, then what of the first—how ‘bout—see there it flies, ah—hook it, in one gill or t’other which’s no matter longs as gillie by goshie, ye’ gets it, Paul! Then the real Paul held it up, waving it ‘roundall slappy ’n flaglike, but, a fast skinny whipman—of which in those days hosts came up from the swampland all wildly an’ woolie, back then—snatched his name back into another, and we thought—I mean I am sorry officer, it happened so fast—but we’re sorry, Meestah Repititianne, we didn’t get you’ name fore it ‘ssolved-so, if Paul’s so looking back now, it seems so easy—plant—it’s taken for granulated  to b’ ‘ble t’ se, buh backity denda’ then, being young dumb and blind, we felt it right, and somehow in the following five minutes or less a newly minted jobrank called Chief Peninsulander popped out that guy back there, and Paul Repititiannette fell back deliberately into the cooling mold of the shiny bright job an’, they fused; all butte the last two letters ‘ne which lopped off Paul’s sho’ last of a oaken-name, leaving  the faux man he was with the final coolly solidified name-plate of Paul Repititian, Chief Peninsulander of Back City, or, betta’ yette, Back City Chief Peninsulander Paul Repititian—and the latest fully adjustable stainless steel style to boot—which was better way better ‘cause of course less is more, bigger’ snot better—these—and economy is a virtue, even a—plant these rose seeds—penny here, and a penny there, ‘cause infinity itself, it was built one penny afta’ it’s very own prior and repeat, Peter, repeat, eck! So that was how, the first three seconds of the start of Paul Repititian’s Chief Peninsulandership began. And all in one instant, compressed, coming critical, and becoming one chink in the wall of our ever festering tightly-firebricked reality. So. 


This, all as we are sure you are well lo’ th’ under of, took Ms. Poole by the behind, but she said, so be it—if it is May—rose—as well believe, that it is, and get in step, with it as, the big men above require it to be done as you know; else as you there are places you know there are for your kind to be places for your kind to taken you’ll be taken ‘u’ know you are to be ‘n know taken to, locked behind something, shut over, which is much, and locked down—which is locked down much more strongly than you’ll be later, to be the punishment center termed the gaol, or the punishment prison center, or the punishment center prison, oh—seeds—what the hereafter of it all, hot damn, and dog too, you got—these rose seeds—the drift, so; let’s move on. But, Vicki Poole became known as a squirmer ‘ver this Paul Repititian this squirmer of a Poole et Poolette he bashed out his head while backswimming in a pool, did you know? Not one year after like, that Papa, ‘member that Papa who ‘verybod’ was glad of who wok? Wok wok? When many all gone were driving up their fine hills, the beloved Pap went toward their bad warehousing shit jobs, all gone was the beloved Papa toward, and had their beloved Papa, in their radios—plant these—who’ bn’ tuned up for distraction. The Papa it said, was gone, all gone. All gone was their beloved Papa. Snot noses in similarity, stuffed ones sat sides by sides o’er him in the Back City business building, wh’ a separate episode will describe downstruction of—and the children may listen, ‘cause no loss of life’s described though yes, there were several hundred more than a few. Paul Repititian was not seeming sudden and not even sluggish on slowly his ‘rogress up the beloved Papa. No one knew the why, but— 

The Reality of Knowing Nothing at All -Jim Meirose        

Part 1 

Plant these rose seeds; hi, Pachasandrim here. Today’s tale concerns things way back in nineteen ninety-four, the year that a youngish Paul Repititian took the job of Chief Peninsulander. We’ll be homing in on the first three years of his tenure, those being marred by undeserved frightful suspicions and rumors, which we will detail down here. Memories from back that far are o’ course very, very hazy, and few, if any written record keeping was done ‘round here ‘bout that time. But, even as the years dragged by, pushing ninety-four back into the soupy haze of the past which dissolves everything inexorably, several oldsters, leaders in every practical meaning—plant—of that word, these being Earlie VonScarff, noted mother of the already late when born Han-Job, he of the Mighty Grip, and his large small dogface, Lucy. Through the years Earlie had always been by nature maddeningly hesitant and tentative, so much so that one wag termed him ‘er Mistress Hesitation De Tentativette, but; she did manage after several years of no actionable talk—that being very lucky for both of our Earlies, given the dread n’ dreadette’s running the mainland prison system a’ t’ ‘ime, heck, a rare bit of luck indeed. Moved to finally put pen to several score reams of costly hi-papyrette, the hand-made Frenchy inportationed type to boot, and so doing so carefully as to not pierce the foolishlies’ thin-cap, he wrote down as following—and, we hereby quote; these—this—that—Mister—plant—Paulie Repititian, as we knew him back o’ that way, out-mystified us all, in all both our ends, as did the twenty-four year old Vicky Poole, who had become mayor so one year prior, that we all ‘urned rou’ saying, We-hah, s’we got a mayor now? Huh. Never ‘curred to us, we needed a mayor, heh. But it seemed okay, ‘t did, uh ‘cause it’d never occurred in us th’t we didn’t need one also, so we figured now, how much trouble could it cause anyplace even if she wuss cas’ were some bad actor of a human, bent on seeding us under with some rot-tan evil bedpods filled with some sorts of scams—the practical—rose—cause, of our deaths from this strain of bad luck ‘oulda’ been limited, anyway, ‘cause in that time there were barely one hundred dozens of us out here—that leaving out all males also, actually—well, it has to be men-tionned here, this entire passage of VonScarrf’s manustrippe was rendered illegible round one littl’ past two thousand ah’n ten, from a laborious but misguided scientifically aided back-rollout of McScarff’s ripoff of an imported impossible to return fragility to these actuall ‘assages of Earlie’s faulty master sheet of rolloffed gutta perchament he wrote over the cross of—so, those populizationed people-numbers could be spurious in that specif’ ti’ ‘rem’, but it only being less that twenty-five fifteenths of a tenth of the total weight of the solidifying—seeds—mash screwup when—plant these—so, they got served up at us, even though Guy—you know Guy, you surely do, cause everything gnaws for Guy’s simple egg-roadsmack served throughout all Crockett, out that high far out westway ‘timately spilled out over the Salaraha, we premise the weight of it all, God willing—but, let me peel off the backskin from the bull of th’ head-tale, and tell you that no matter this, en no mattah that, Vicki was in having solidly spiked the ball down in overstriped all goaliepostal end-mayoral territory, but, we swore to not let no gnawthing snick up under ourselves never gain-gen, but—one year later—and it must have been—rose—so soon, because the first rounds of beatings had left us weak, and our eyesight hazy. So— 

Last summer I did my first end to end reading reading of Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Thousand Plateaus’. Previously I had only read sections here and there and fragments of other works (of theirs) so this was an edifying experience. As I read I began to notice the Castaneda references. These grabbed my attention as I had previously read Castaneda’s books some 20 years ago. Prior to reading them I had always avoided them assuming them to be some kind of new-age claptrap, however when I did read them I found them compelling and beautifully written (or at least most of them). I played somewhat with the techniques and found they actually did things. This was something of a revelation as my prior interactions with meditation and western style magic seemed to get nowhere. However interest waned, other things happened and slowly I forgot about this time.

So reading Thousand Plateaus was an incredible experience for two reasons. Firstly it was fascinating to engage with this book properly and secondly it seemed interesting how many Castaneda references were in it. To review these, they are:

i) In ‘On Several Regimes of Signs’ he is mentioned in relation to combating solidified mechanisms of interpretation.

ii) In ‘How do you make yourself a Body Without Organs’ Castaneda’s experience is cited in relation to the construction of the BwO, this too relates to the breaking down of interpretation and construction of flows and becomings. In the same chapter we also have a mention of the tonal/nagual dualism set up in Tales of Power where the tonal is everything cast under an organising principle of intelligibility (quite like pneuma in the accretive system variously detailed throughout the site) whilst the nagual is simultaneously everything but from the position of flows themselves, an ineffable a-signification that (arguably) also potentially, obliterates the restraints of space and time (this would correlate to the umbratic in the pneuminous system).

iii) In ‘1933: Micropolitics and Segmentarity’ the works are mentioned again in relation to the obstacles that Don Juan says stand in the way of becoming a ‘man of knowledge’. Don Juan here is given the illustrious comparison of Nietzsche’s Zararthrustra. The obstacles are: fear, clarity, power and disgust (old age in Castaneda). Fear here seems to be fear of existence of flows/becomings etc. Clarity is comprehension of the same. Power is dangerous as once clarity is achieved and movement is possible between rigidity and flow and second kind of rigidity re-emerges as threat, the power to control the flows at this new level. The last danger concerns the lines of flight and the possibility that they will not connect to other lines but instead will end in abolition. One might hazard a guess that the chance that the line of flight ends in death increases with age.

iv) In ‘1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal’ in ‘Memories of a Sorcerer III’ Castaneda is invoked again. Here he is used to illustrate the progression of a sequence of becomings; becoming-dog, becoming-water, becoming-air. It also mentions an incident of Carlos being pushed through a door and reappearing in a totally different place.

v) In the same chapter Castaneda is credited with having effected a ‘broad synthesis’ of earlier 20th century comprehension of mind altering drug effects. In this way he makes a key contribution to the ‘drug assemblage’.

This Deleuzo-Guattarian connection gives Castaneda a connecting line to philosophy. This is the starting point for Parasol 6. It doesn’t mean that we want only DnG/Castaneda papers but here is the bridge. A beautiful synchronistic connection is of course the English translation of the the French agencement: assemblage. This brings immediately to mind what Castaneda no doubt thought his most important concept in his later work: the assemblage point. The assemblage point supposedly determines the reality we experience by lighting up a certain set of human luminous fibres at a time. The point is normally fixed, sorcery, dreaming, power plants etc move it and hence alter our experience of the world. The two concepts may not be directly connected -but on the pneuminous plane they are.

We must also remember that there are many non-philosophical adherents to the ‘system’ still in existence. There is a reasonable sized subreddit that seems to have some of Castaneda’s old students in it. There is a heavy focus in the group on a practice called dark room gazing. This basically entails silencing the mind and staring into pitch blackness for a long time. Many practitioners report results, often involving purple smoke but many other phenomena. Interestingly the criterion for the reality of the experience seems to be to test whether or not any coloured lights/smoke can me touched and manipulated. Participants seem to frequently report being able to grab such lights/smoke.

The big question here is of course, does it actually do anything? One could potentially explain most of the subreddit participants activity by saying that they are inducing hypnogogic images of a powerful nature. This is all very well except it does leave us again in a rather agnostic disjunctive situation. That is, smoke/lights that appears in the dark may be adequately described as a hypnogogic effect however this is identical to the appearance of the same phenomenon that is actually some kind of energy as described in Castaneda. We might at this moment recall another previous Parasol topic who reported almost exactly the same phenomenon. Wilhelm Reich claimed orgone could be seen by staring into the dark and that it would appear as a blueish mist. Such a description of course is not far from the darkroom gazers purple smoke. The agnostic disjunctive point (like in the synchroncity argument) is that in order to privilege the hypnogogic explanation we must know that this version of reality is correct. Since both accounts are simply what it would look like for that to be the case we cannot be certain that the hypnogogic one is correct, so when (as many do) they simply thing dismissal is easy they beg the question by assuming a version of reality in order to dismiss the phenomenon. The big question of ‘does it do anything?’ then is partially rendered inert by the agnostic disjunctive observation insofar as being able to induce such experiences in a sense does count as doing something (it has the appearance of some experience commensurate with the descriptions in the books).

This is my impression of these kinds of practices too, the satisfaction of them is that they generate such experiences which then can be interpreted in light of the Castaneda system or reduced to hypnogogic hallucination. The Castaneda system makes one thing abundantly clear though. If one wishes to develop these kinds of things into full blown weirdness there is no place for the agnostic disjunction. One must be committed to accepting the weirdness and not dwelling on its ontological nature as only under this condition will it properly be able to develop. And this is reasonable really, one can imagine that if reality really were sensitive to mental/bodily activity then one must temper the mind to maximise the result.

In the books Castaneda is pushed beyond any level of agnostic disjunction by events so bewildering he has no choice -people flying, teleporting, producing energy doubles. These kinds of events are not reported as replicated in the subreddit and of course one can quickly think, ‘because they aren’t possible’ and probably they aren’t. However there are plenty of mentions of phenomena similar to astral projection/OBE’s which, through the Castaneda system are interpreted as ‘accessing the double’ and there are plenty of reports of such phenomena successfully interacting with the world (not necessarily from the CC camp). This suggests that there may indeed be a kind of progressive link between smoke like phenomena and the ‘double’. This furthermore (to me at least) suggests a kind of open end to the phenomena that we may not know the limit of.

With regards to scepticism, the system suggests there is a kind of protective mechanism built into extreme weirdness for it is repeatedly said (when Castaneda asks such questions) that when an ordinary person observed such a phenomena they would not be able to see it. We may take this to be a convenient or plausible explanation in a similar agnostic disjunctive manner.

Two more points spring to mind in this area. The first concerns that well known topic from various strands of neo-materialism, speculative realism, hauntology etc.: the outside. The exit to the outside is an idea that comes up a lot. The outside itself can be split into a strong and weak version. The weak one being the scientific outside which potentially allows for at least our comprehension and possible somehow greater interaction with fields beyond the human whereas the strong Kantian version prohibits our ability to ever make contact with the noumenal realm. Sorcery (the Castaneda system) seems to suggest a third option. Sorcery would seem to align itself basically with Kant except that transcendental categories and pure intuitions would only be pseudo-transcendental. That is, the transcendental status would be true for every human unless one took the trouble to dismantle the categories/intuitions using sorcery. Then it would be possible to experience something beyond them. This experience in Castaneda’s terms is indeed the experience of the noumenal realm. That is, it suggests that the exit from the human security system (to Coin Land’s phrase) is possible, it’s just it takes more than copious amounts of amphetamine to achieve this. Secondly I think no matter how stable and functional our current scientific paradigm looks, we have to put aside our prejudices about anomaly in general, listen to the phenomenological picture, override the tendency that comprehension of things is within easy reach and consider our understanding of reality may yet be extremely primitive by standards yet to come. The appearance of spatio-temporal solidity may yet turn out to be erroneous as a flat earth.

Another aspect of the whole Castaneda affair that we equally cannot ignore is exactly the claims of invention. We do not raise these in the tired sense of lambasting him for lying -as Deleuze and Guattari point out, it scarcely matters if he did. No one can tell how much of any of it is real. This in itself is an incredible achievement. Castaneda may have pulled off one of the greatest hyperstitional ever. The power of the writing, the strangeness of the events, the endearing natures of Don Juan and Don Genaro all go to making an incredibly attractive world that people want to be real. The work minimally exists as possibly real which means it essentially is hyperstition. It’s a whole canon of potentially largely invented work that exerted and continues to exert a powerful effect on reality.

What my wandering writing here is trying to get at is that there are many good angles from which to write/create upon this topic. There may be more but I offer here:
i) Deleuze and Guattari as a philosophical entry point -though I can see non-philosophy can work quite well here too.
ii) Considerations of the practical aspect of the practices and the ontological/epistemological implications
iii) Possible connections to other theories (e.g. Reich).
iv) The meta-fictional/hyperstitional aspect of the work.
v) Considerations of Castaneda’s work in relation to the outside.
vi) Ontological implications of treating such work seriously -even without practical engagement.

Submissions should be sent into ceo47@outlook.com

There is no deadline as yet, though 2021 itself roughly marks the boundary of submissions.

The original intention of the hyperqabalah was to form a shape that in some sense matched the necessity of the Gra-tree of life qabalah construction. Whilst of course there is no necessity even to such a structure, there is at least the easy suggestion of one. That is, the circuit 2-3-5-9-8-6-2 easily can be laid in two columns, one of 2 5 8 and the other 3 6 9, this leaves an easily inserted middle column of 1 4 7 10 to create the tree.

It was hoped that the unveiling the base 23 circuit would suggest a similar pattern however no such obvious shape shows itself. This issue was forced with the creation of this figure:

This figure can work with the lengthier base 23 circuit and retain numerical order in relation to spatial position however its structure is far less suggested than that of the regular Gra-tree in base 10. Owing to this lack of necessity it was deemed that whilst an interesting instantiation of the Hyperqabalah it could not be the Hyperqabalah itself.

The Hyperqabalah itself in acknowledging of this lack of necessity now takes on a much more virtual aspect. This means the necessity of it can only be perceived in those paths which are genuinely necessary for its existence at all. These are the paths of the circuit d f j s l w u p h n d and the feeder numbers that accompany each one of these. The below diagram shows these feeders as each one plugs into the circuit.

This means that the only actual necessary amount of paths in the Hyperqabalah is 20. In a sense this is not true though since there are two nodes missing (a and m). So unless we wish to say that no path connects to these nodes (which we do not) then there will be at least 22 paths (if we wish them all to join together). Now 22 is course the number of paths in the original Gra-tree. So the essence of the Hyperkab in this sense is just the circuit, the feeders and the two master nodes. If the tree were this minimal though how would we decide to which nodes the master nodes plugged in? Already the suggestion appears that the master nodes may plug into each of the other nodes simultaneously. This notion has a kind of level of suggestive necessity. We may find there are more such levels, however what seems eminently clear is that we have a much greater sense of virtual paths that may be instantiated after the original 20. It is only 20 since any connection to the master nodes is at the level of suggestive necessity and not mathematical necessity.

What we will need next is the total list of virtual paths…

To end this very enjoyable exchange … maybe no real conclusions, but indexed 1 to 10 some refinements at least.


“We teem with references” [#1 GA1]


Everything unsaid but taken as said in what we are saying—or think we are saying, because the ‘message’, if one is intended, is always a surplus, a distinguishing element attempting to sit in front of a teeming referential mass. Even the slimmest of cues does the referencing. Conventional formalities are not even required. Indeed where they appear they represent a sort of failure of confidence or of trust in the reader to pick up on the biggies. Yet it is confidence in the multi-layered mundanities that represents the bigger risk. What you are reading is never written in exactly your own language. The set of all operable references never operates; they are like genes, in any particular being some are switched on, most are not. Confidence is thus easily misplaced, and this we recognize. Our realities coalesce in a world only in their denser cores; the blurred, sparser edges defy resolution and become the territory for self-delusion, imagined solidarity where none can be realized. Yes, “once your madness has been absorbed by history.”


A touchstone for me has long been Charles Bernstein’s remark somewhere in Content’s Dream (1986) that the question to ask of any poem is not ‘What is its message?’ but ‘Does it make sense?’—not in the sense of ‘meaning’; rather, Does it make sense that this—this stanza form or otherwise, this approach to a topic or otherwise, this rhythm, this play of syllables or of word-lengths, etc—is worth adopting / combining right now? Or (to tack on) does it make sense that this poem from Chaucer, or ancient Egypt or China, or Emily Dickinson, or Basil Bunting, etc, is worth turning to at this point? In other words, as a reader, Does it resonate? As so often in this exchange of ours, it turns out that one (whether poet or reader) can answer this only for oneself, but it does, I think, look to some kind of sociality, not least because other poets provide crucial degrees of guidance or, again, touchstones.


“… what can be glimpsed or grazed, startled into apprehension, via the potentially heretical notion of ‘a pidgin of one.’” [#1 GA1]


Without realizing it Data teaches us the profound discomfort that the Faustian project holds in store for all literates. As culture ‘evaporates’ it does not disappear; it becomes concentrated in the one. What then could possibly form bridges better than suitably energized, ameliorating ‘pidgin of one’ projects? Newspeak, at the other end of the spectrum of possibilities, perhaps demonstrates by negative comparison the alternative tendencies: Newspeak towards exhaustion and extinction under advancing ice; pidgin-of-one towards diversification and regeneration at the edges of advancing rain forest.


The more I think about it, the more ‘potentially heretical’ the notion of a ‘pidgin of one’ feels, bristling w/ seductive invitations to colonial-style appropriation, esp if by ‘pidgin’ one means the kind of work-situational tongue assembled from words in this, that, & the other language (w/ the ‘lexifier’ the main source of vocab), a syntactical structure mainly from not necessarily the lexifier, etc, that I tried to outline in #1 GA. How dip toe into that w/out referring everything to ‘one’ guidance? You capitalize ‘Data’ in arguable allusion to Mr Data, the android personification of infinite computer banks in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994) that would reduce all these alien situations to scenarios conceivable by our own. Data thus has colonial agency, which is what the posts of #3 were very much about. In the same posts I gave a brief rundown of some complexities of Coleridge’s wonderful formula ‘suspension of disbelief’ (SoD); one strategy for a contemporary poet here might be rather than avoiding narrative on principle to exploit SoD to the full in relation to a historical situation while dropping pointers that the poem’s account is radically incomplete (to be blunt, that one has been flat-out lied to) & can only be completed(?) by looking for data outside it …


 “… retrieval of an originary linguistic mode” [#1 PP1]


A writing that is inventive according to immediate (psychic) survival needs. The long-term prospects maybe kept out of mind … left to be apparent after (perhaps long after) the fact of each inventive episode.


“… there are times when language fails us completely” [#2 PP1]


The symbolizing machine has limitations, maybe it never fails completely, but that is not the point. The point is that no matter how much use we make of the shared, the synchronic, linguistic resource it still operates like an ocean-going super-tanker, impossible to manoeuvre in the more awkward corners of the world.


“how can we think to make aesthetic form at all?” [#2 GA3]


At my first mention of a pre-linguistic reality-making in which the Real stands as an inherent limitation, we latch on to a reformulation that promises a better outcome. Either by generalization or by discrimination between notions of ‘thought’ we proceed. …


We’ve said a lot about language & the Real, but it may be worth adding that there’s an element of poetic voluntarism involved: We seek out situations, problems, etc that seem to baffle linguistic grasp—what else are worth going for?—as you suggest in #3 in citing Badiou’s attention to “the possibility and even the necessity that we do not remain silent about that of which we cannot speak.” The poems I cherish most bring w/in reach of articulation some scenario that I’ve at some point experienced (eg how the apparent shape of lower Manhattan changes, at one point dramatically suddenly, as the Staten Island ferry approaches South Ferry), thinking almost reflexively the while that this one really is beyond language—but see Louis Zukofsky’s early poem “Ferry.” Such poems are resolutely personal in the experience; there are relatively few of them; & they can arrive at any point as gifts from the world.



What is the poet’s job? Is it to observe and celebrate through the unpredictable

play of words? This would meet popular expectations. Poems that work well in these limited terms entertain in the expected way; for ‘ordinary’ readers (audiences) the aesthetic pay-off is pleasurable. Such poems also succumb to conventional critique; criteria such as ‘sharpness of perception’, ‘affective quality of expression’, ‘mastery of word-craft’, and even ‘recognizable formal affinity’ can apply. But I am being deliberately contrary here; putting the conventional in those terms makes it easier to understand that there are other necessary motivations, that there is more to say on the motive for poetry. I said of my own: “… compensating for the anachronistic, the dislocated, and the alienated qualities of for me ‘ordinary’ experience.” [#2 PP6] I am not denying that I operate in conventional playful ways in much of my poetry; that much is plain to see and hear. Some of my poetry, however, comes from a very different place. A ‘feeling for the eerie’ perhaps is one way of putting it, because its basis is anticipation rather than observation, and because it alerts rather than celebrates. A ‘feeling for the absurd’ is another, although this would seem to lead inevitably to a political poetry which until recently had hardly begun to emerge, but it will. (While one is salaried, to stay ‘in place’—sane, productive and hopefully secure—one has to be to some degree resigned to the absurdities of organization. I retired over six years ago and that ‘resignation’ no longer applies.)



Resistance and play extrapolated far enough to lead on to the question I dodged: “if you sense some pressure there toward martyrdom, given Judeo-Christianity is burrowed into the habitus & the poet shorn of broad social relevance.” [#2 GA7] The exposure to danger entailed in the poet’s resistance it seems to me signals a desire for intensity of being and a desire to refuse all resignations. Insofar as these desires can never be fully satisfied (who amongst us could be that constant?) the “pressure” toward martyrdom might be felt as a consequence of residual allegiance to Judeo-Christianity, but not I think of resigning oneself to its residual presence, either in moments of ‘weakness’ or of ‘recouperation’. I have found no ‘cause’ in the political or religious sense for which I desire to sacrifice myself. The ‘resistance’ and ‘play’ routines I delineated could lead to that outcome, but I think if they did it would need a remarkable overturning of my ‘neurodiverse’ constitution. “We do what we do” might be as close as we can get to an authentic statement on the mystery of poetic motive.


I think as an Irishman my interest in martyrdom has much to do w/ the Irish nationalist dwelling on it in song & instant legend. “A terrible beauty is born” Yeats repeated of the Easter Rising in lines I still can’t read aloud w/out cracking up; Patrick Pearse used to insist that the time had come for the blood of young Irishmen to be shed for the liberation of Ireland; the rather more nuts-&-bolts socialist James Connolly demurring, “No, for the blood of young Englishmen to be shed for the liberation of Ireland” … W/ respect to poetry, I’ve just started The Martyrology Books 1 & 2 by the late Canadian poet bp Nichol, a near-career-long project (1972–1988; 9 books) into which he proposed packing everything he’d learned ever, which hopefully will be enlightening … In terms of the poet’s desire for “intensity of being and a desire to refuse all resignations,” don’t you think St Sebastian, in the lethal consummation, felt precisely that? Or St Teresa of Avila, who wrote, “I die because I cannot die”?—even as she was working her frail body to death.


“the music hovers constantly on the brink” [#3 GA1]


A lovely moment in your notes on the Abdullah Ibrahim jazz piano sessions does indeed capture something of the poetic magic of something I hinted at, ‘deceptive intelligibility’; call it a ‘slow release’ as it “gradually becomes shared or at least beautiful”—although I might say “… shared and then (perhaps very much later) beautiful.” Again this does tell us a lot about the grand notion of aesthetics; the concern is for (an adequate account of) reception. How can a piece of music, a play, a poem, induce a riot one year and entrance us all a century later? Aesthetic reasons for this proliferate. A ripple effect through the language that distributes affectivity through the world; the point of entry is a violation and history records this; the ripple is like an echo it becomes a dissociated part of the mix, part of the atmosphere, and affect becomes free to change.


The wording of your comment here is wonderful in the most literal sense, & again, speaks to a huge (imagined, felt) sociality—



Why ‘deceptive intelligibility’ takes on such valuable cargo.

In poetry by adopting grammatical, even if at times interrupted, structures it appears to contribute to a consolidation of reality while in fact deliberately loosening things up. It does so, perhaps in that Olsonian sense of being more ‘up to the real’ (I follow in your attachment to this insight), but perhaps—and this works better if one adds in the speculative philosophical notion of the Real as a unified beyond—in a deeper liberatory sense. This is the anarchic manoeuvre retained, as a moment of personal animism, in the vain hope that there is another solidarity to be had. It is a solidarity achieved through communion rather than communication, through condensates and precipitates of the Real admitted from ‘the beyond’ into reality, i.e. sharing in a world not through a force of rational thought processes—the political, the scientific, the critical-theoretical, etc.—but through a release of energy, creative energy if you will, of which art at its purest is the embodiment.


Here I would recommend John Wilkinson’s “Harmolodics” for what one of our very finest poets can do w/ a Harlem marching band—which, as I began to write this sentence, I ‘remembered’ as w/ the Notting Hill Carnival—in context of a multiply regimented society.



In accounting for the unprivileged and unsanctioned voices that entered into the cultural arena through force of projection during the 20th century: what one does not need to focus on is new institutions forming and adopting their own versions of privileging and sanctioning procedures. Yes, the working man’s voice, the gendered voice, one ‘typified’ voice after another, is gaining, has gained, some space, but that is all about the group-identifying—actually world-forming—mechanism that emerges and constructs a new institution. One does not need to talk too much about this because the mechanism is already discursive; it generates its own justifications for, and accounts of, inclusions.

The focus then shifts elsewhere by chasing after peripherals. There is a genuinely asocial social being, an acultural cultural being, an apolitical political being, … yes and somewhere in there a faithless martyr whose being refuses even these categorizations. Such radically unprivileged and unsanctioned voices appear with two levels of potential transgression already implied in their arrival.

Privilege is that bestowed favour on the individual within the framework of the law, “typically the exemption of one individual from the operation of a law.” The transgression implied here is a nullifying one that diminishes both the pre-eminence of the identified individual and the operational distinction between law and justice. The unprivileged condition is thereby not a flattened-out legislated-for existence, but is rather one unconstrained by or released from legislating mechanisms. Oh, I don’t take any notice of that; I just do things my own way. I don’t care what people think of me, I just get on with things. Below the radar, beyond suspicion, out of sight, far out, off-grid, bit of a nomad, that’s me … none of that is quite right, but whatever.

The double edge of the sanction disappears: neither permitted by nor penalized by an authority, because no authority is recognized as operating or no authority appears able to operate. Subjection requires submission to authority of one sort or another. Where no submission is forthcoming everything authority recognizes falls apart, and the unsanctioned recognizes only an emptiness in the illusion of authority. This is bloody dangerous … we might engage in passive resistance; what’s that worst that can happen, you could end up in prison or they could kill you, yeh, but I’d still be me, I might even be a better me, a better poet … and let’s face it, the best poets are all dead … so you want to be a martyr? What, me?

Asocial social being, yes, but that’s autistic temperament. Acultural cultural being, no. I certainly have not released all the bonds of behaviour and belief that define me as specifically cultural, although they are weaker than they were ten or twenty years ago, so I am more open and more myself in my being in the ‘retirement’ I am not really in. Apolitical political being, no. For similar reasons except, as I have aged, an anarchistic ignorance has evolved into a somewhat informed Kynical response to political posturing, factionalism, party allegiance, etc. The incompetent is easy to spot, or is it? Increasingly thoroughly diffused it becomes its own camouflage.

Why is this important? I suggest it comes down to an ancient point; it is important because every individual retains a ‘personal animism’ which they cannot afford to bury under adopted, enforced, conventional ‘identities’ if they are to remain human.


A spirited closing para. I would note that surfers, eg, talking of ‘unprivileged voices’ (except on surfing channels), say things like this; politicians & business people only when they’re out on their yachts, eg, or playing games where everything seems at stake. Does this mean that poetry, for all its play & resistance, finds its essential rationale in self-realization?—which I suspect is the dimly visible gorilla slouching in the armchair all the way through … Myself, I would say no, but that comes at the price of insisting that the motive for poetry is at bottom irrational, involving as it does some kind of dogged faith in poetry itself as something making its way through centuries & histories—& how is that not then collectively necessary, if for reasons remaining obscure—?

And here the dialogue suspends … dear reader. I hope you enjoyed the little thought experiment.