A Vast Goodness

 
"calaveras," arnold (ca), 2011

"calaveras," arnold (ca), 2011

 
One had only to offer attention, and into one’s thoughts wisdom would seep as naturally as the infusion of an herb in water will set free its essence.
— Norman Mailer, Ancient Evenings (1983)

Dear Friends,

The blessing of writing, it seems, is that one becomes many. This, given the fact that a word exists only in the company of other words. (What is a word without another? A cry in the dark. More on this forever.) This, given the fact that the written word is comprised of letters. Flesh begotten of clay. What are we before we are?

Divergent beyond belief, explosions in the night, scars in time. We can believe anything (see: the news). It's not effortless. What sort of effort underlies the will to unity, the standing-under, the great waking clamor of light, the frothing clash of thought and silence? What makes sense?

A heroic effort, simple growth. Do you breathe easy? Who breathes? How can you be sure?

 

***

The sound was so loud it became a kind of silence.
— Tara Walker, "Freight" (Lunch Ticket)

***

 

Orwell's 1984 is one of my favorite books. I have made a habit of saying this for reasons that are no longer clear to me, and the context of willful unity seems like a good one in which to clarify the relationship (a clarity which I hope will be somehow generous). My admiration of 1984 stems primarily, I think, from some strange predisposition towards dystopian vision—fear makes such clear imprints upon the mind, renders everything that has come before that much more beautiful by comparison. This assumes that fear is the dystopian reality's primary ingredient. An argument could be made for violence, but that seems more central to horror. These are definitional lines in the sand of the cosmos, which of course fosters and tolerates violence as readily as it does beauty. In any case, the omnipresence of fear in a dystopian vision somehow stimulates my experience of its opposite: love.

 

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Capitalism in the real world subordinates the rational maximization of productivity and profit to the exigencies of organizational control.
— Bob Black, "The Abolition of Work" (Primitivism)

***

 

For years I went around claiming that 1984 is a love story. And of course it is a love story, but to say so in such a blatant fashion sort of confuses the truth in it. I'd like to move beyond the fact that novelists and Hollywood alike find occasion to implant romantic relationships into every storyline. Yes, romantic relationships basically illustrate love. Yes, there is a sort of romantic relationship in 1984, but it is almost too desperate for love, which is patient and enduring beyond all comprehension. Orwell wrote a love story in the sense that in a setting so meticulously devoid of what we know love is, love becomes the silence, the stage upon which all characters and events stand. Silence is the ultimate metaphor for love. Or vice versa. Call it a devastating dance.

 

***

The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.
— Garry Kasparov

***

 

In reading 1984, we feel love's power in Orwell's sociopolitical attention to its absence. This is true for Nabokov's Lolita as well, but in a different manner, that of its physical misallocation, a pervasive sickness (void of health). In the human will towards unity, what is central and where is the center? I turn to David Mutschlecner, who recently wrote the following in a letter describing the influence of Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro:

I love his sense that consciousness is the will to unity that underpins all thought before thought goes on its narrow fearful way of dividing everything up. Right now, in this perilous political time, how we need to know—what a hope it is—that consciousness is the will to unity, and I would add: the will to inclusivity. Why can’t we keep this ground close to the heart?
— David Mutschlecner

Questions open us to possibility, a vast yet somehow coherent future field. Which slope is the solution to your current, which stone will resolve your sky? In the months and years and ages ahead, I hope we retain our facility for mind-splitting inquiry, our aptitude for prayer. In prayer we hear the disparate voices of ourselves sing as one, a choir of identity. In prayer we welcome all, forever.