[Beyond the Human Predicament]
a metaphysical journal
98 problematical assertions
for S. M. S. - J. M., Ph.D.
[who knew who she was]
and for William Blossom
All human utterance is a vain attempt to exorcise the human predicament.
The paramount source of pleasure in apprehending an embodied truth is the implicit conviction that we are participating in that which by the very nature of our given condition is merely a lie.
To state at any level or in any mode is to retire from the basic confrontation with an ambiguity which is total and yet, hauntingly, utterly meaningful.
The whole texture of human artifact is a tapestry of partials coherent only to some distant God asking us to define Him.
The thrust of human experience is that very definition.
In this sense, the noblest human utterance, once fully embraced by author or audience, is simply cliché.
The measure of a man is the strength of his clichés.
One can polarize for the sense of equilibrium, but no two acts or artifacts are ever disparate;
A simple act of kindness and the most barbaric cruelty are linked so tightly as to become one;
In this world only art permits us to entertain such a notion;
In this world only a death of the personality permits us to embrace it.
The aesthetic experience is a momentary death of the personality.
Mystery is simply a catchword, an easy out in the face of perplexity.
Certainty is the other out.
There is only one certainty, one mystery, man's hunger to escape perplexity.
Perplexity is the womb of utterance.
All human utterance is a partial definition of God.
The total fabric of human confrontation and escape is what we have managed to contribute to the existence of our Creator, and yet He always subsists without us, both as primal cause and primal target;
Outside our experience cause and target fuse;
In a real sense, all we have ever been is a concretization of a texture premeditated and resolved in the very existence of the God we seek to define;
We are God's self-definition;
In this life we are imprisoned within it;
Without us He could never experience predicament;
In this very real sense, the Cosmos is a necessary evil, a rounding out of the Ultimate's experience of Himself.
There is no statement that is not objective, none that is not subjective;
An artist participates, more or less, in a common subjectivity from which he can only extricate himself by insanity;
Here communication breaks down, for utter objectivity is not merely incommunicable, it is irrelevant to the human condition;
Divine madness is a contradiction in terms, for if it truly existed no one would know about it, especially the divinely mad;
What one apprehends as divine madness is really just a partial escape from the countenanced point of view.
There is no such thing as pessimistic art;
The very act of utterance is the culmination of a necessity both desperate and supremely affirmative;
In much the same way, all human behavior is affirmative;
Even murder is an attempt to define God.
If I define God as evil, He is evil;
If I define God as good, He is good;
He cannot escape my definition;
Nor must He submit to it;
God's greatest joy and consummation is that He participates in all such definitions;
This is His Buddha nature;
At the same time, such participation is His greatest agony;
It is His Christ;
Such polar figures and their fusion is the key to existence;
The key turns;
The door is opened;
On the other side, no one definition is better than another;
In this very sense, we live beyond good and evil and yet enmeshed;
The very resolution of contraries immediately implies its opposite;
In this sense, God is not within the human experience;
We can only witness what we have made of Him;
He both eludes and participates in the making;
What we have given God is the capacity to imbed Himself in every triviality, every obscenity, every glory:
God has given us the opportunity even to deny His existence;
We must permit Him the opportunity to deny ours just as well.
Measure a serenity by the turbulence it integrates;
Only the most threatened serenity is worth living.
Justice can never be experienced this side of the predicament;
One can only know, as if by a fleeting shadow, that nothing can ever exist without the enrichment of God, the only real context.
The Creation is essentially an aesthetic procedure;
The critic is God, we enact His drama;
It is His decision alone whether to participate or withdraw;
Neither drama nor decision is arbitrary;
Thus, the notion of the absurd is a particularly human comfort;
It is a ploy;
One embraces perplexity as ultimate value in order to exorcise it without struggle;
The value redounds to self, but the self is no longer there;
A life without self is indeed absurd.
Confusion is the only real blessing of human existence;
That it is only partial is our greatest curse.
To rest in confusion is to experience Buddha;
To proceed in certainty is to murder Christ.
The universe is, at best, a textured silence proceeding from its own direction.
There was never a time that God did not complete Himself;
In this sense, sequence is peculiar to the human experience.
The universe is real only in the degree to which it is imbedded in its own finitude;
To capture its immensity is to participate in the reality of its nonexistence;
Just short of that is the despair of one's own finitude;
When finitude collapses into nonexistence, only there is immensity in its utter fruition.
There is no one human statement which fails to encode supreme knowledge.
Consider the individual in supreme isolation;
If one can speak of beginnings, let that human condition explain the origin and genesis of utter possibility, the Cosmos itself;
Let it speak again of its obliteration;
At no point is anything which has ever been and anything that will come to be not here;
At no point is anything present not absent.
Within predicament God reaches for Himself;
Beyond it He delights in the finding;
It is impossible to conceive of a God without a universe, just as it is impossible to conceive of a God without a God.
The universe is a completed fact, even and especially in the process of its generation;
It would be impossible for God to conceive of anything which did not exist prior to its conception by the very force of His own plenitude;
That we come into existence is something even God can share by virtue of His own diversity;
The only real qualification of a statement is its polar opposite;
Existence is thus dialogue, predicament talking with Himself.
Prayer is the only resolution of discord one can ever take for granted;
Just as well it is the only absolute we can ever know this side of the human predicament;
One is never less than one's prayers.
May 3, 1983
All human knowledge operates within a closed system;
At its most ambitious level it can only reach for its own obliteration;
One can never state without excluding the universe, yet even a reach for falsity betrays its own truth;
Communication is always a strategy for masking the obvious;
There is no one that does not hunger to be corrected.
Even the highest art is a reach for order that operates by the principle of exclusion;
It lives on only by the force of its audacity;
The artist seeks to overthrow limitation by its own tools;
We receive a confined immensity;
The awe it inspires is only bearable by the self-assuring notion that it is, after all, merely human, really no greater than oneself;
Until that notion is operative, no art, however slight, can fail to intimidate;
Humanity is not yet street-wise enough to dismiss it;
Only a dismissed genius is ever a viable commodity;
Only a dismissed genius is ever embraced.
We must feel comfortable with our artists;
Too large a statement too soon threatens our sanity;
An artist can be forgiven his own suicide, in fact, applauded;
He can never be forgiven the suicide of the universe.
Van Gogh's curious life makes van Gogh forgivable;
A doomed genius is the most forgivable triviality;
On the other hand, if we were ever to experience the full weight of normalcy we would shriek with fear;
It is one thing to embrace normalcy;
It is another to deliver oneself fully over;
Complicity in entrapment is the established norm;
That it is always somewhat beyond our grasp is our greatest hope;
Genius must be strictly abnormal and defeated in the human psyche, trivialized in its utter extent, before it can merit its place in the pantheon of human comforts.
Art is embraced only at the level where it is no longer operative;
The entrapment it expresses must have reached the point where it is common coinage, sanctioned, no longer exists;
There is no greater nuisance than the genius who has rediscovered the human condition.
Reality may be thought of as a spiral expanding toward its origin;
Spiral, expansion, direction, origin, however, have never commenced, proceeded, or terminated except in the mind which employs the originally stated figure;
All metaphors collapse at reality and its onslaught.
May 4, 1983
The cruelest task of any artist is to weigh apprehended paradox against its ambience in another century;
One can glimpse a Botticelli only through dark glass;
Whatever light leaks through is startling;
One must wonder what he thinks of us.
Our torment is the very difficulty of our affirmation;
It proceeds at massive exclusion;
It is rarely honest;
Only at the edge of madness can we ever embrace what we have made of this world, yet embrace it we must;
The naked sores in Francis Bacon are a love affair with a crushing totality;
Such sweet lyrics voiced in all candor are the death of shriek;
To affirm, ah yes, to affirm—such sweet shriek is the death of lyrics.
True greatness is always the direct gaze, however pitiless;
We are past the era when such gaze can take in light.
Botticelli is locked in a very deep tomb;
He resurrects in the video game, the jeans commercial;
True voice in 1983 would wither God himself, and yet He is speaking, begging us to speak;
Look closely into the pit we have made of Him;
Every agonized sound which fails to emerge is a lessening of His grandeur;
There is no elsewhere beyond an anachronistic hint, a high-tech yes, data itself, the transmutation, our monogrammed Brooke Shields madonnas.
The organic can never be truly exorcised;
Though we become our machines, they have no need of us;
To say yes to the mechanization of all that is human is to blind oneself to the prerogative of the organic;
Even the maggot is greater blessing than what we have come to worship;
Only the maggot can survive this brave new world.
Live yes, but in the face of these facts;
To ignore the slightest nuance of predicament is to surrender oneself over to the deepest nihilism imaginable, the technocrat in his antiseptic chamber;
We inhabit a coffin;
Our flowers are the mutant cells which devour us;
A death by cancer is far more to be desired than a death of the human spirit;
I pity Judas;
I cannot pity the children of Edison.
To usher out death by a trick of technique is to become it;
There will come a time when only death can be affirmed.
May 7, 1983
Intelligence is an enormous handicap to the genius;
The truly bright are never confused long enough to learn anything.
It is of far greater consequence to pose a problem than to solve it.
The greatest wits are only textured by their limitations.
Sheer force of will is the only contribution the brain can ever make to insight;
Beyond will is inspiration, the apprehension of utter paradox.
An easy resolution is the curse of the quick;
Better a confounded dullard than a convinced mathematician;
The further one moves toward thought the more evident become its limitations;
An excessive IQ is the surest passport to mediocrity;
Even Einstein was dull enough to keep his mind shut when ingesting the Ultimate.
Clarity is the leap toward ambiguity, the utterly inclusive;
One swallows the universe to spit it out as platitude;
The largest statement is essentially comic;
Better a confounded genius than a convinced dullard.
We are always closer to truth than we thought, never closer than we felt;
To open one's mouth wide enough to swallow teeth, to open one's teeth wide enough to swallow mouth—in reality one suckles the Ultimate;
The clash of appetite is only organicized with our final, inevitable acquiescence.
The greatest terror and mercy of sentience is its condition as food;
Human tragedy in all its ramifications reaches, appropriately, for the belly laugh;
What a spectacle, the latter, existence laughing at itself!
It is impossible to lie concerning the human condition;
Yet utterance itself is a nervous discharge, a tic, a symptom;
We are far less involved in what we say than in the need to say it;
The urgency of speech is all the message it can ever contain;
One need not look back to its beginnings to feel its import;
A child's first syllables are its deliverance over to the countenanced entrapment, even our present nostalgia for life beyond words;
How curious the midwife's duty that we call it deliverance;
The only gestation one can ever realize beyond the age of three is death itself.
May 8, 1983
Essentially, we wish to murder our children by trapping them in our limitations, and yet there is perhaps nothing more detrimental to a child's development than an understanding parent;
The trap is all the more complete when it is lovingly imposed.
The only forgivable trait in Hitler is his character;
The only unforgivable trait in his functionaries is their lack of it;
Only an entrenched normalcy can support a Hitler;
Rather a rampant perversity than an uncompromising acquiescence in the status quo.
An idea entertained is loveliness itself;
An idea embraced is the very warp of Creation.
The most loving gift any parent can confer upon a child is a full blown neurosis;
The most loving gift a child can confer upon a parent is that neurosis overcome.
May 12, 1983
The deepest concerns of any era are those which are least apparent to those who live it;
To be truly representative, an artist must have appeared to have lived his life on another galaxy;
In time even the intellectuals will see that he alone was in touch.
Recognition by one's contemporaries is the surest barometer of irrelevance;
An age will always reward its most gifted spokesman for the countenanced lie;
Gift itself is the least essential ingredient in the total complexion of genius;
The truly dull are closer to genuine creativity than the apparently brilliant.
Truth is only recognized when it is no longer operative;
An idea is first treasured by the obstinately clever, at last the safely stupid;
Vision is first ignored, then chic, then comfortable;
Only in the first case could it have spoken to the human condition.
The most abrasive howl of our present era is the lullaby of whatever future is left for us;
To entertain greatness one must remove its teeth;
Today's obscenity is tomorrow's platitude.
The only lesson one can deliver unto one's children is the most dangerous, that there is in fact no lesson one can ever learn from one's parents, that we are all in the dark, that a lesson learned is immediately irrelevant, that truth becomes a lie the moment it is recognized, that growth is the murder of all lessons beyond the capacity to overcome them, the murder of lesson itself, that one can only proceed from confusion to clarity to confusion, that a stubborn clarity is the death of growth.
God wants us to find Him;
The task alone has meaning;
Its completion, once rooted in the human psyche, is the very death of God;
We grow toward God only by His persistent loss every moment He is within our grasp;
The search for God is only meaningful when relentless, relentlessly frustrated;
The only viable belief is a hunger for it;
Certainty is the death of belief;
Confusion is the only imperative for its birth;
The greatest treasure of existence is this hopeless quest for that very Definition which ceases to exist the moment He is found.
An artist has only one imperative, to embody man's search for the Absolute;
The imperative itself is his absolute;
There is no surer death of art than a mastery of medium;
The search is over;
Man is no longer artist;
He is child at play.
Suffering is God's struggle to complete Himself;
Only on human terms is it ever unfortunate.
May 13, 1983
Clarity is the fusion of confusion;
It is that transience where the resolution of paradox intrudes on the basic human condition;
It can be major or minor;
It is always fleeting;
The moment it is grasped it no longer exists, it is a warp;
This is not to say that one can deprecate those moments when predicament and Absolute fuse;
They alone can temper a life of pain;
One should receive them however only in the lulls of struggle;
A forced clarity is a chimera, a deadly poison;
A clarity embraced is the death of predicament and the death of relevance;
It is the most foolish and headlong leap out of existence.
Within predicament God can know His own limitations, and yet there is no greater limitation for the human species than to move beyond, and, as is the case, always by a fiction, the grounding we give to the Creator, that widening and constriction of His experience which it is to be truly human, truly imprisoned.
A God confined is a larger God;
In all likelihood He is bored to death of our totalities;
Far more interesting to the only Absolute is the lack of Himself than its mirror image.
There is nothing more pitiable than the curse of excessive intelligence trying to move beyond itself by virtue of its own tools;
There is none of us that does not aspire to the condition of God, and yet, there is nothing in the realm of human experience that is more absolute, that we are God, and yet a God diminished, a God entrapped;
The strain and terror of intelligence is the refusal to accept the conditional in our Godhead;
One cannot avoid God even while trying to become God;
One cannot avoid oneself even while trying to become oneself;
There is nothing more enjoyable in this Cosmos than our little resolutions, nothing more disconcerting than the manner in which they vanish;
The impossibility of Resolution itself is the surest measure of its certain attainment beyond the process which seems ultimately to lead nowhere, anywhere but toward it;
There is nothing more certain than an impossibility.
If one is large enough even agony itself is comic, a spectacle only the agonized can laugh totally out of existence;
Perhaps laughter itself is the highest expression of human suffering;
Pity this God laughing at Himself!
May 14, 1983
The trite is simply the most disguised paradox, whose resolution is the simplest yawn;
An artist can never avoid the larger questions even when he flees from them;
He can only secure his fortune.
If there can be said to be an audience in mind for the genius of major proportions, it is in fact himself and yet a maturer self, a self achieved;
The total achievement of self is the achievement of God;
Thus the only fit audience is God Himself, the only fit art that which produces Him in the process of satisfying His demands for art;
Art and artist are, at best, the generation of God in its most uncompromising particularity;
The more honestly an artist reaches for himself does he find his particular God;
Only the particular God for each of us is worth finding.
In art, as in all other human endeavors, only the most particular is ever common;
What passes for common, what is most easily embraced by one's contemporaries, is the general;
The common is in truth the fiercely embraced particular;
An artist should seek that which isolates himself from the world in every aesthetic decision;
Only by a rigorous adherence to that isolation can he ever hope to transcend it, to, in fact, find the world.
To mirror the manner in which people speak one must ignore the most obvious symptom, the speech itself;
There is no surer path to the general, the trite, than a slavish imitation of the very data of speech;
To record any commonality in its utter extent, one must attain to what it expressly omits;
The common speech is what man masks with his verbiage;
The latter is the vehicle, the former the tenor;
The artist can deal only with tenor if he is to embody the current and yet timeless version of the human entrapment even and especially in the degree to which he implements it as vehicle itself;
All great art is the general unmasked;
It is the tenor of the general, i.e., the common, become vehicle, become tenor, become God;
If it mirrors anything beyond itself it is only in its very process, which mirrors the Creation;
A work of art is a Creation;
It becomes Creation the further it is realized;
We read in it, however implicitly, the whole process by which, by virtue of which, we come into being;
The greatest irony is that an utterly realized art immediately ceases to exist;
Art can only feed us through its limitations;
The truly aware could never produce it;
The truly aware can never avoid finding it.
Any truth, once achieved, is only a metaphor for a truth yet to come;
The final truth was implicit in the very first metaphor;
In the end, which is with us now, forever and ever, tenor and vehicle are one.
May 15, 1983
To faithfully mirror Creation the work must generate itself from a first sure moment;
In the nascent artist that moment is rarely sure;
As instinct develops, however, the mistakes themselves prove to be the strongest elements of the work as it moves toward completion, for it is their suitability that can never be anticipated except in the surest damnation of all first moments, all art—the rigorous anticipation.
Creation was never fully premeditated in the sense we know it;
Nor was it resolved;
A premeditation and resolution are only forgivable in art and life when the work itself, art, life, is left to its own means, its own beginnings, its own endings, its own process;
Outside predicament there was no first sure moment, no process, no resolution, that did not always exist and not exist;
Only the artist can experience this truth within the predicament, only in the process of honest creativity, for his work is always a Creation.
Look to the greatest art if you seek to understand the universe, if you wish to grasp, if only for an instant, the rightness of God and His handiwork;
What must first appear as flaws become in time the most conspicuous virtues of any achieved thing.
The universe is always achieved, even now as we view it;
The greatest artist is always achieved before he is ever born;
His major work is always a reflection of the process which brought him into being;
A communication of that process is the only task set for him;
Statement in art, as in life, is everything, but the only viable statement is always the struggle for it;
The greatest blessing an artist can ever receive is to know when his statement is completed, even if there are fifty years remaining to him on this earth;
The Creation, a Creation, will always remain a necessity;
The very repetition of such, however, is so trivial as to border on nightmare;
There is nothing more chilling than an endless repetition;
Anticipation is the surest route to it;
There is nothing more insufferable than a God who has nothing further to say;
Were He ever to repeat Himself we would laugh Him out of existence;
We would shriek with fear.
Repetition is the trivialization of Creation;
It is the abdication of Godhead;
Even God must thrust His totality into utter confinement in order that what He has always begun, always resolved, proceed from its own demands.
What we have come to term free will is the very limitation God imposed on Himself to satisfy the demands of His art;
Only within predicament is there such a thing as free will;
Beyond it one can never make a decision that has not already been made;
One can never be anything that has not already been;
The Muse, as we know it, the sense that we, as artists, are only instruments, is the surest testimony to the very paradox of existence;
We create through God, and yet we create:
God creates through us, and yet He creates;
Art is the embodiment of that process, that we are determined and yet free.
One might wonder if an artist can revise;
One might wonder if God can revise;
The problem of revision is the problem of Grace;
Only a consummate artist or an enlightened God can tamper with the process of Creation.
God's own nature was His premeditation;
The only safe premeditation for any artist is his very own nature.
May 18, 1983
A God without man is the highest, most extravagant absurdity;
A man without God is the nightmare from which there is no awakening.
July 16, 1983
We are God's finitude, the supreme fiction that can only exist from within itself.
July 17, 1983
The manner in which a human being experiences reality is in itself the whole grounding of reality;
Reality is the only experience whose conditioned nature is its own substance;
An experience beyond the conditioned is in no way part of the Cosmos.
Even fact is metaphor;
A statement is only verifiable in the degree to which it addresses the basic yearning, the basic human condition;
The measure of any assertion must be the degree to which it precipitates that basic awareness without which no assertion can ever have grounding in human or absolute reality;
The measure of an assertion is basically how much of it we can truly entertain.
July 27, 1983
God can never be found or avoided;
He cannot avoid or find Himself;
In the flick of an eye we have stared at ourselves;
The drama of existence is the only metaphor which seems sufficient unto itself;
It cannot suffice for God.
Were we to experience the entire Cosmos from within, from within its confinement, we would still lack God, for we would merely be God from within confinement;
He has that very experience, and He has Himself.
August 3, 1983
A preparation for death is the only relevant life;
Pity the human being who has died before he has ceased living.
September 12, 1983
Our God is a construct only humanly possible, child of our own predicament;
Were we to vanish the God we posit would disappear with us;
Only an unfinished being can pray, though pray we must;
The lack of himself that constitutes all impetus toward prayer is his only absolute, is prayer itself, a yearning for self-completion;
In this sense, all artifact, all utterance, is prayer, a testimony to human limitation;
Whatever we utter or define is the God we posit, somewhere out there in front of us, soliciting His existence;
We live and die toward Him;
He lives and dies within us toward Himself.
September 23, 1983
The allure of a diminished thing is always the human deity we would call our Father, having surrendered the process which would secure His existence;
We would embrace the Other as we would embrace the Self;
There is no yes that is not cliché beyond its entertainment, none that does not trap us in a partial god and his craven image.
The highest levels of human achievement are those deified partials that are simply human, simply and utterly warp;
Our Christhood must always be the determination we assert to move beyond him;
We must approach the condition of any man by the selfsame zeal;
Buddhahood is simply his transcendence;
There is no image that does not exist to be overcome.
September 24, 1983
From within we strive for some basis of morality that would not leave us paralyzed;
And yet in the clash of hierarchies there is respite that does not necessarily swallow itself, in the aesthetic moment, that epiphany wrought from despair of contradiction, that moment when the temporal and eternal cross, where man in time steps beyond his own grounding;
This is the death of context, the death of personality;
Were it to stubbornly remain, the very grounding of human existence would vanish and with it our God and our universe;
Where all act, all artifact, all utterance, are absolute given, there is the intersection of beyond and within, one preempted by the tenacity of satori, by the mystical vision which swallows the very grounding of Creation and cancels its progress toward resolution in time, at the end of progression;
Such obliteration is the very curse of transcendence;
It can have no part in the human experience;
It cannot answer the context it erases;
It betrays no empathy for basic entrapment;
The beyond of STARRY NIGHT, of Michelangelo's Pietàs, of da Vinci, of Rembrandt, of Caravaggio, is a human beyond, one grounded in the very limitation it strives to transfigure;
Art is simply human;
Mystery is the absence of its own grounding;
To leap beyond life is to relegate the eternity of each imprisoned entity, each instant of yearning, to the ash heap of means, which, left behind somewhere back through a vanished past, screams to be felt by any transcendence, to endure within it;
One must never slum one's way through the very dignity that has generated final release;
It must be there in the very extent to which it existed, the supreme aggregate that cannot be ignored by any without that would seek to subsist beyond it, beyond the very weight of it;
The Buddha's smile is annihilation;
Surely Christ must strain it;
Satori is only the poorest half of a meager aesthetic;
No god has any need of art;
No man has any need of satori.
We reach for ultimates;
It is the dignity of existence to be cheated of all of them;
Rather a God impoverished than a human trapped in the definition that would fix His transcendence;
The struggle to speak is the widest God we can generate here and now toward a generative transcendence, the ongoing definition of God which alone is viable for all eternity;
No obscenity can be less than God's grandeur;
Such is the terror of utterance.
September 25, 1983
A hand across the void can ease the pain of existence, can ease the stab of hope, the wrench of pity;
One cannot hope to diminish tenderness;
To speak of dark extremes, a wielded knife can cut a path through to the Other;
One cannot diminish murder;
Yet art alone can embody the antithesis, can harbor either pole;
It is the copy of a copy, yet always turning back to burn into us the very ambiguity we would hope to escape.
Where the threshold of pattern emerges at the furthest reach of human endeavor and yearning, true art can address us, art alone;
Strangely, it is always failed by its audience, who can take its relevance only in comfortable installments where statement loses its edge;
When shriek becomes lullaby, its teeth removed, its immensity confined, abstracted sufficiently from the current version of predicament, it can divert us, simply entertain;
Our lip service to art is one of the grimmest hypocrisies any relevance has ever had to contend with beyond its very own oblivion.
September 27, 1983
In time one apprehends that the very limitations of human experience are its absolute;
Only by living through the context from which we cannot depart can we for all practical purposes transcend it;
Human freedom is thus the totally experienced limitation;
It exists at that existential moment where limitation beyond the possibility of ever bearing is utterly embraced;
One leaps toward the very existence one flees:
In this very human, only human crossroads, leap and flight are one.
September 28, 1983
Utterance is humanly everything, even its own futility;
Existence is the human fact;
Predicament is essentially the yearning on the part of conditioned being to resolve itself in absence, a resolution only humanly experienced, humanly possible;
That the resolution itself is merely fleeting is not the full weight of the human predicament;
The weight is rather that utterance is simply predicament accruing with further utterance;
Every clarity that would proceed from human experience is simply a larger ambiguity realized in its own expression;
One cannot state without imbedding oneself in the very perplexity one would wish to flee, a confusion which is all the more complete for the very statement which would seek to deliver us;
In a real sense, the human experience is a flight toward horror;
With time the individual comes to apprehend only further ranges of the paradox implicit in his very existence;
His only comfort is the small resolutions of the past, which, if honestly apprehended, would merely subsist to aggravate the very lack of resolution which, ongoing, ever-accruing, is the very fear of future, the despair of all resolution;
Strangely enough, no other reality could equal this dignity, the tension of human existence.
November 16, 1983
A measure of the validity of any statement is the degree to which it turns on itself;
That is, assertion, in the process of devouring its own tenor, materializes as the vehicle of deliverance;
Fact is ingestion, ingested assertion, such process as unending terror and resolution;
From utterance, contradiction, in turn an utterance—our only human existence is its own food;
The smile of complacency which would greet the spectacle of genius reaching for primal utterance is the petty conniving satori in each of us, that leveler, that samadhi which it is to be general and never common;
There is nothing meaner than the little Buddha in each of us which would thrill at the profane spectacle of crucifixion, and yet there is nothing more unconditioned than the profanity of that larger smile, that enigmatic self-complacency, the Buddhahood itself, a man who has swallowed Creation, even himself, the swallower, to rest in the permanent absence of all contradiction;
Without strife there can never exist the ongoing resolution of strife;
Curiously, without calm, there is no strife worth preempting;
The oscillation of generative redemption is the very pleasure one feels at that moment when even the sacral seems foolish;
Every absolute is prey to the dirty joke;
There is no conditioned being that does not elevate his own limitations.
November 19, 1983
It may perhaps be enough to say that paradox experienced in its utter pitch is its own resolution, that one's unrelenting confrontation and pursuit of the human frustration, the human yearning, is all the meaning one can ever expect of life, let alone elicit, a purpose in fact so overwhelming in its onslaught we recoil in fear;
From this, our personal Gethsemane, both prior and past, we weep Christ's tears for the very condition of human redemption, that by our given condition it must be generative, that pattern is only process;
Certainly no God-dazed man has ever brought back from that experience more than the slightest nuance, the barest twitch of that utter contradiction it is to be Godhead, Divinity, vapor, figment, Luminescence;
Without God no conditioned being can ever be sufficiently human to be God;
Without man no God can ever be sufficiently God to be human;
The very tension that would create us is the Deity we create in flight ever toward Him and, necessarily, ever shrieking from His presence;
We are caught in God;
We must earn Him just as we earn ourselves;
Calvary is the Smile even God must pursue to earn His children.
November 22, 1983
Think of God as emerging pattern, as resolution looking back;
And yet neither pattern nor the backward look is at all viable without the very force of contention from which it emerges;
While we grow toward God there is no target without us;
There at the extreme polarization of assertion and counter-assertion, only there can exist the very flash across abyss which is resolution in process, target in genesis, process itself, the emergent Deity we would hope to grasp if just for an instant, from that height dizzily to lapse, to speak, God-dazed, God-blinded, God-broken;
This instant, this eternal condition, is the womb of God, the very human darkness from which all gestation proceeds:
We are the lack of God which provides for Him;
As we give Him birth He gives us definition, for there, beyond our striving, He alone can see the utter substance of striving, of that process which He has chosen us to endure that He might be fashioned into existence for Himself alone, that Him which is us;
There is no growth that is not toward Him;
There is no agony that is not for Him;
There is no bliss that is not of Him;
The metaphor of human existence has Deity for its tenor, conditioned being for its vehicle, and yet at the outer range of this striving is the assurance even in the mind of conditioned being that vehicle is tenor is God;
God is the total partial waiting only for our apprehension to complete Himself;
There could be nothing less relevant than a Godhead without struggle, without violence, hatred, pain;
There is no God that is not lessened by an absence of the very carnage staining His birth;
Only the most pitiable of Creators can emerge without human lapse and imperfection as its grounding;
Deity is that only human fabrication whose tears are no less copious for Judas than for Christ;
Without the children of Cain there is only Void;
Even primordial slaughter is a texturing of God.
November 24, 1983
From metaphorical Eve, from Paleozoic Adam, such first gropings of sentience, all human experience has been a sequence of polarization, the shudder of paradox;
All artifact embodies the historical ambience of that strife and its momentary resolutions;
There is no torment of history that does not reflect the conflict inherent to conditioned being, whether we rest our beginnings in Genesis, Einstein, Darwin;
Here in this last decade is the supreme moment of polarization toward which all tensions have driven us;
We poise in oscillation between paramount assertion and paramount counter-assertion, our particular nightmare which is our America, our USSR;
All else is usurped by that frightening abyss;
Were one of these fictions to absorb the other, that emergence would in no way lead toward calm and human transcendence but rather toward fragmentation and chaos, a further more terrible abyss;
Humankind has found itself in existence with the only viable goal its own annihilation;
There is no resolution that is not terror, none short of absence that is final;
One can only vainly speculate how often we have destroyed ourselves;
Precipitously we move toward Void, that flash across abyss that would terminate ongoing definition in the absence of that which we seek to define, that would terminate in God;
Supreme pattern is the very lack of itself at the moment when birth becomes searing consummation, the death of birth;
Small wonder Buddha smiled;
Less wonder Jesus wept.
November 29, 1983
The larger statements must perforce address the human condition, and yet all statement of necessity flees from that which it seeks to address;
Utterance itself is a turning back, a flight;
There is no candor, no direct gaze, that cannot fail to recoil from the sheer burden of what it means to be human;
The general procedure is to focus on some smaller version of predicament, to chart an area of more or less comfortable proportions and assay to pronounce;
That all philosophy, all statement, turns mutely within itself, that it can never address itself, as it were, from the outside, is cliché enough, but the act of philosophy, of statement, the uttering itself is cliché of the nth degree;
Far more relevant to the human condition are the rattle and shriek of delirium than such sanctity as whole philosophical systems by the intellectual giants of our previous eras;
One cannot know what it was to be Kant;
His CRITIQUEs are architecture itself;
On the other hand, the most impressive achievements of that monumental psyche, confronted directly, can only serve to heighten the basic human perplexity;
To derive one's sense of direction from the past is to embrace a corpse;
To cling to the truths of the present is to assist in one's own embalming;
To generate the largest human assertion for one's present era is to lay down one's life and utterance for their perversion and irrelevance in a future no different from our own, sustaining itself on carrion, on utter bombast;
Who among us could presently dare to know that even God is shrieking with them, that even then in such merciless beauty there is time to yawn?
December 3, 1983
One must assume that any statement, however its force, can only reach the general public, in its intransigent morass, when it has in fact lost all force, when it can, so to speak, tickle a fancy, stroke a misconception, fondle a dullness;
Strangely, conditioned being is rarely aware of its own parameters;
The very tension and yearning of sentience fairly much passes unnoticed;
The dullard rarely knows he is in pain;
There is nothing of more unquestioned value to the world at large than the work of art that would assure us that pain in fact, at some remove, exists, that limitation itself exists for some of our fellow creatures some of the time, somewhere remotely perhaps, all of the time;
Such information is in fact a type of diversion and, when couched in sufficient rhetoric, solicits its place easily in the canon of official greatness;
To state directly to the slumbering brute in each of us which so stolidly refuses to part with his insensibility, to open those heavy-lidded eyes only for an instant, is to invite calumny, disaster, vindication;
The dull will vanquish all, particularly the freshman upstart who speaks to the very condition we have with utter enthusiasm surveyed from a comfortable distance there in a vanquished past, an entrapment which is never our own, which we will always fail to recognize solely as our own, the very grounding of our existence;
Only when utterance, even at the highest, most relevant pitch, manages to enable us to displace our private agonies, will we let it into our hearts;
There is nothing more aggravating than real currency, than the direct, unhesitant gaze.
December 7, 1983
Within experience all action is productive of release;
This much assures us of the fusion of good and evil;
There is no event, no increment of human yearning, that is not inextricably related to all events;
There is no event that does not exist in total isolation;
Therefore, while I choose life I have created God totally as life;
Each act is the total determination of Godhead;
It is felt by the Cosmos, and yet it exists in an utterly sequestered relationship to the God it creates;
There cannot exist bliss without agony;
Each creates the other by a process of utter connectedness;
Just as well no bliss can endure the condition of agony, no agony the condition of bliss, for what is utterly connected is by necessity totally sequestered;
In the utter mesh of interrelatedness everything given is totally alone;
In this latter sense, bliss can create solely bliss, agony solely agony;
Each of us is guiltless either in the production of Godhead or in the production of the universe which grounds Him;
Each of is total guilt in the same process;
We cannot avoid that clash of existence which alone is generative of resolution, and yet we are totally alone with the God we effect;
The resolution of human yearning is with us in each increment of our sentience, and yet that very resolution is hideously (mercifully) remote for the whole process of our blighted (beatific) lives;
There is the God we share and the God we cannot share, whether we shrink from the first and embrace the latter, whether we embrace the first and run shrieking from the latter, whether we come in an instant of grace to float in a world that is just as well of our making, that glimpse of freedom, that epiphany that is had when the production of God is final, that moment of tenderness, that aesthetic moment when all poles fuse;
Our God is the God of murder just as He is the God of love;
One can never avoid creating Him.
December 13, 1983
The work of art that could give us death even for an instant is an achievement of total necessity, so that none of the elements in the full range of the artist's personal conflict remains withheld, so that none is not given its repose, so that the domain of the aesthetic product is itself complete for the given context from which it issues, and yet strains to explode in quiet fury, a fury dominated by the artist's range of technique;
Technique can, in fact, be nearly everything;
It is the instrument of fury and the force of repose;
Without the tensions implicit in the artist's own context, however, without that larger tension of ultimate will forcing its way to speak through context itself, so effectively as to even here and there shatter it, there can be no great art, no necessity, no statement;
The conditioned being who submits to art, permits himself to fully experience it, is, as it were, sucked totally into context and deliverance, the particular articulation of a conditioned being;
We who approach art are given the opportunity to be pulled totally out of our being;
We are given for some small lapse of time the death of context, for we participate in its transmutation, effectively in its absence;
In the aesthetic moment we are apprised of the fact that without the very condition which entraps us there can be no statement, no release:
We give ourselves over to the one of us who has humbled the very bonds of his conditioned being, for whom entrapment was, in the very act of his creation, merely the instrument of voice, yearning the instrument of a fictive melody drawn forth from yearning, his very own context;
Only the artist with the greatest impediment to voice, whether crippled by the sheer range of his utterance or the personal context from which it issues, will speak to the will in us, the greater voice for all of us, should, even for the briefest period, those barriers become at last the vehicle of his expression;
We submit and all barriers cease to exist;
We are sucked into one man's transformation of barrier;
We are sucked into ultimate context;
If even for the briefest instant, resolution effects.
December 16, 1983
The mystic can be forgiven only in terms of his art;
All else is weak-willed and formless, the abdication of structure for an undisciplined immersion in ambiguity;
The struggle to wield the latter is simply mute, awash on a sea of passive affirmation;
When the attempt to order what is basically chaotic, formless, threatening, is lost, there is nothing left over but an untimely swoon;
We can forgive the poetry, seldom the statement;
The Blake most worship is rarely thought;
In that end he is insufficient poet, an artist too frequently "pretty," for the whole tension that would foment the relevant artistic statement for any concerned humanity is dissipated by a moon-struck foggy awareness, an easy, all too facile, yes;
Mystery is simply a category into which one shoves all that is too wrenching, too paradoxical, too difficult to confront, let alone embrace, articulate;
The mystic has "filed" his agonies, his misgivings;
Yeats could have never been in practice the weak-willed sycophant of ultimates we find in his VISION;
The poetry is far too virile;
Blake or Smart, embraced, is always lesser poet, nearly always;
Even broad Whitman suffers from his incessant sloppy yes;
We can credit him with far too few genuine poems;
To retreat to these men and their sources is to find oneself in a slovenly Boehme, a murky Eckhart, a prattling Francis Assisi;
Not a soul among them would dare address the very horns of predicament, let alone attempt their articulation;
For mystery the dark night is simply a phase;
For predicament it is the beginning, the middle, and the end;
It is the alpha and the omega;
Let there be no other dark nights before us.
December 26, 1983
There is the other movement, equally pernicious, that of the rationalist or logician, who would seek to trap the very stuff of life in a hierarchy of categories, who would freeze all flux, all ambiguity, lock it in a mesh of judgment, hoping always to attain to utter certainty in the confusion of human affairs, in the manner in which conditioned being apprehends his universe;
Here is our death as form where the very pulse of life is fixed within irreclaimable limits, where the thrust of all sentience is frozen in a partial God;
Here the mass of human sentience finds its entrapment, reserving for fairly well bounded areas the other "out" of mystery or leaving it to its sway all it cannot without some real exercise of mental powers it seldom lays claim to, delimit, define, elucidate, restrain;
We seem poised between, in fact, two large categories of human experience which seldom if ever encroach on each other—the realm of certainty, the kingdom of confusion;
One never rests for long in the latter;
One proceeds with utter haste in the former, and yet one rarely proceeds at all;
It is simply that solitary consciousness which is apprised of the total tension of ambiguity, that struggle between an apprehended confusion and its resolution in clarity, the total dynamic give and take between the only certain, the only mysterious poles of human experience, who ushers forth real future, the attainment of Godhead in process;
The mystic would have us wallow in an unformed bliss;
The logician would chill us utterly out of existence;
When both persuasions are embodied forth from the same unhappy consciousness in constant tension and release—only there is generative purpose, the full weight of ambiguity and its resolution, only there is Humanity;
Where Blake and Newton fuse, only there is God.
December 30, 1983
Historically or existentially, the moment one finds oneself in situation, the paramount motivation is the hunger to escape it;
Thus primitive man was wholly without situation until the very first pulse of fear, ever after within it;
He peopled his environment with gods in order to mute the basic estrangement from
Godhead, an absolute immersion in his surroundings where he in no manner ended or the world began;
In process, all various gods coalesced into God, which he placed in some fashion above him, beyond reach;
Even this vestige of the original unity lapses into figment;
Contemporary man attempts to join his environment through the realm of category and subsummation;
He reaches with his intellect;
We are nevertheless caught in lapse;
Even an ingestion of the universe would not suffice for its return;
The very act of naming was the first symptom of an estrangement from the loveliness of I-Thou fusion, the original bliss, a "diremption" of the sacred from the profane which is indeed the definition of lapse itself;
Language, utterance, is the very first symptom of yearning, of conditioned being, as in
the naming of a stone, as in signifying its Godhead as unconditioned fragment of a world once utterly God;
We move toward the original oneness, ever thwarted;
Lapse is the very condition of textured existence, of God, as only conditioned man can know Him;
Beyond Adam's fall, beyond primordial Cain, there is no other God before us;
We are desperation fashioning Deity in our own image;
The world and its Creator can have no real existence beyond our lapse from it;
We are the gods of isolation;
We create our God in action;
We usher Him in with choice;
We fashion Him with utterance;
The fortunate fall is the textured Jehovah, only possible through the very nature of conditioned being, only relevant through human lapse;
All God mirrors human pain and its search for deliverance, a complex of thwarted being;
Beyond the agony of His absence every moment we create Him, there could be no viable purpose ever in the utter sway of galaxies of calling Him into existence:
Only a lost God is ever worth finding;
Lost or lost and found, the whole pageant of conditioned existence proceeds upon a basic assumption, a basic impossibility, that we should ever utterly see His Face.
January 1, 1984
One can assume, if only as metaphor, that even the primordial act of naming is a tunnel or incision through a feared ambiguity, that utterance itself, the oath, the declaration of love, the positing of an absolute, is flight itself, a movement of penetration through absolute enmeshment;
Even and especially with small talk or its mass produced contemporary equivalent, the romance novel, the "soap," one attempts to disperse the weight of a desacralized existence, ever pressing, ever ominous;
One attempts to forge a path through an oppressive density, to strike a track of illumination through a menacing obscurity, through perplexity itself;
In this very real sense, all utterance is equivalent, from the SAINT MATTHEW PASSION to the graffiti on a Times Square toilet stall, all utterance apprehended, however, with the totality of one's being, both situated and situatedless, where Christ and Buddha meet;
Obscenity itself, as murder or oath, is the pierced obscurity, the flight from situation;
No four-letter scrawl can fail to define the human predicament, can fail in its utter signification to be less than God, and His momentary completion;
Just as well only from within situation can we ever raise PARADISE LOST above the ravings of an avowed fascist;
Holiness is confrontation and yearning, is subsequent flight even toward the very context one flees;
It is mirrored in all human artifact and will never submit to measure beyond the predicament from which it issues.
January 4, 1984
One can approach utterance with an inverse metaphor, and yet perhaps the larger;
In all speech, all artifact, there is a collapse of immensity upon itself that would hope to figure and even contain our predicament, to hand it on to the Other;
In this sense, stab, kiss, oath, beatitude, graffiti, fresco are all implosions of the greatest doubt mass, the most menacing and yet merciful ambiguity, into utter definition;
Hugeness collapses into manageable hugeness where the solitary artifact or gesture reaches for total statement;
One carves therefore in meaning as well as meaning's utter frustration;
Tic becomes Aum, shriek becomes anthem, curse becomes supplication;
One speaks to deliver oneself of a pressing ambiguity and yet delivers over to the Other the sweet taste of affirmation wrapped as it well might be in platitude, predictable as last year's truth;
Caress is the utter pitch of fear, a thrust of transcendence where even stab becomes womb, enveloping the Other;
All fact, all artifact, attempts to collapse a universe, all utterance to swallow it;
There is no aggression that is not statement, mercy itself;
There is no kindness that would hesitate for an instant to ravage the primacy of being;
We utter toward flight, but we carry the Cosmos with us;
One cannot kiss without the annihilation of a universe, equally primal, equally necessary;
We cannot stab without the restitution of bliss;
We act to define;
The definition is always partial, always God.
January 10, 1984
The nature of our predicament is that we never step outside, and yet the very nature of the outside must follow from the only world we know, the situation of conditioned being, if we make the very large but very necessary assumption that our universe is in every respect purposive and just;
Whatever we need by way of that assumption to complete our existence, the very sense of our living, is, in fact, granted;
We are in need of a God, and we create Him;
The God we create must, by our very constitution, be in need of us;
We constitute Him in our own image;
He is the particular, the common, God for all of us;
On the other hand, it is His prerogative to dispense with the very process of His generation, once ushered into existence even as the merest fantasy of our longing, for, having been vested with reality by the very process He has founded, the transcendental nature so necessary to His completion requires the opposition implied in His emerging definition to leave the conditioned behind, the utterance, the womb of situation from which He has sprung;
It is much as if He has premeditated a generation of Himself, which when left to its own devices continues to create a God of sorts, even His shadow, when He has long since stepped beyond;
Here from within the human situation God is determined and yet infinite;
From beyond He is freedom itself and yet finite;
From within He is textured Absolute;
From without He is absolute Texture;
From without or within He is utterly anthropomorphic, both from His generation and from his very human decision to either elude or participate in that generation;
There can be no God beyond that which we need to complete our notion of existence;
That God we fashion, even as a speculative venture, answers to our needs, even His own;
He cannot exist from within our existence without us, and yet He has ushered us into existence for the very purpose of eluding that necessity in order to complete His notion of Himself;
We cannot fully exist without the very God we create, and therefore God MUST exist;
He cannot exist solely on the very terms without which He cannot exist for US but must transcend to fulfill those selfsame terms;
The transcendence of Godhead is His ability to let us create Him and yet to refuse to abide by the only terms under which He can be called into existence;
We define God at His own request;
Without that definition the total dignity of human existence crashes into dark abyss;
We are God in process;
Without that process, that definition, neither God nor humanity can have any viable claim to reality;
For man to posit his own existence he must first posit his God.
January 18, 1984
Only the individual in supreme isolation, that consciousness imbedded in utter context, can lay total claim to aesthetic utterance, Godhead, the commonality of human existence;
The supreme moment of conditioned being is archetypal;
It exists at that instant in his personal Calvary when even the historical Christ experienced doubt;
Such is the aesthetic fact;
No art form can ever reach it;
There is only one antithesis worthy of contention for this supreme, only human moment;
The latter is eternal;
It is the Buddha smile;
We oscillate between such extremes, that of total individuation, that of total commonality, and yet one is the voice of the other;
The artist who speaks of Christ must proclaim to supreme force of his context;
Historically, nowhere else is it so fiercely articulated;
The artist who speaks of Buddha must forgive an insanity which has leaped beyond life, beyond individuation, the general, the collective, to very absence itself, that moment beyond doubt when even supreme doubt collapsed upon itself and entered our personal resurrection, that moment only historically achieved when Christ regained his faith;
Those of us who presently enjoy existence are not blessed with such clearly defined antitheses, and yet our terror is just as profound;
Sucked into category, beset by the very collectives from which even a Buddha would recoil, we lapse into a tainted affirmation that can only diminish us;
We lapse into countenanced lie;
One becomes male, white, American, Protestant, middle-aged, father, fathered, creative, crippled, bothered, possessed, a host of adjectival monsters marshalling categorical sway to define, enclose, usher into existence neither commonality nor particular, simply the general, tedium itself;
We are wedded to the trivial;
We flee the whole;
There is the escape of madness and the escape of supreme sanity;
Neither is complete;
One must reach so utterly for the definition of God that Christhood is simply beside the point;
One must flee our Buddhas toward that supreme moment when the very articulation of Buddhahood is forgiven;
There, on that personal Calvary, even Christ will forgive himself, his arrogance, his ambition;
Perhaps then he will let that jolly fugitive master of bliss, that shrinking Siddhatha, back into existence.
January 24, 1984
The production of art is paradigmatic for the whole process of emerging existence;
Art and its making are not simply a mirror held up to predicament;
They are its most intensive statement;
All existence is involved in the production of Godhead, in His very definition;
There are simply no false turns;
We speak of the aggregate, even of the consequence imbedded in each decision;
We cannot opt but for God;
Ours is the God of stab;
Ours is the God of bliss;
The artist is paradigm, figures the whole pursuit, not only in the God he defines but in the act of definition, the very process he not only completes but exemplifies;
The creation itself is in fact Godhead;
The resolution of process is the process itself, our dignity, the dignity of conditioned being;
To apprehend Deity in a world of I-Thou split, one must give oneself utterly over to Nature's remaining hieroglyph, the artist, his act of creation, for only in that model can we begin to witness the dignity of pursuit, the God we complete by the very act of our being;
Here is dignity, that we usher into existence a Godhead we cannot escape even through a deliberate subversion of the process;
Even Buddha creates God as Buddha, Absence as Absence;
Lucifer is not without mercy in his very contribution to process, Cain without righteousness, Judas without primal kiss;
Satori, the supreme flight from the genesis of Godhead, creates satori;
We are always trapped in birth;
There are no other Gods before us;
Even those among us who would will all sentience into their very private hell are trapped in beatitude, fixed in a chill of grace;
The Supreme Artist who willed into being a Hitler will caress his shadow through the millions trapped in that wayward moment even a monster smiled;
There are no villains, no victims;
The world is an aesthetic project;
It is by its very nature affirmative;
It cannot help forgive itself, even that tendency in its being to reach for condemnation;
To point one's finger one must despair of direction;
Guilt can never be truly indicated;
It can only be embraced.
January 29, 1984
The supreme ethical assumption from within our predicament is that we are the God we create, that there is no choice that is not productive of Godhead, that does not figure ourselves as the Godhead we have produced;
Beyond our human situation, resolution has effected in the very source from which all textured existence emerges;
We have, in essence, determined our God in our very determination by the God which has chosen us to determine Him;
We and God are and have always been resolved;
We are resolution effecting that which is already effected, already resolved;
In this sense, beyond predicament, there is no action that is not resolution, no God that is not completed;
We participate in a drama which includes neither victims nor oppressor;
The aesthetic gesture which is ours, our very lives, can never ultimately further suffering, can never embody imperfection;
The surest testimony to this condition is the work of art within predicament itself, for no art can ever, if fully achieved, embody imperfection, further suffering;
All art, all creation, is the transmutation of suffering, the transmutation of imperfection, their very voice;
Life itself, the ultimate art form, is the very voice of pain, is a pain beyond itself;
Each of us, even our shriek of protest, is aesthetic procedure;
Cancer, agony, are artifact;
Death, decay, putrefaction, torment, are artifact, are the very stuff of their own transmutation by their very participation in being, for God's being is utterly achieved, here, now, everywhere, that being which is our being, our completion;
Our God has chosen the difficult task to usher us into existence that by our very imprisonment He might complete Himself even by the fiercely human act of turning His back on the plenitude of his gesture and leaving us alone to complete the Godless production of a shadow;
On the other hand, there is no human agony, no human profanity, that cannot fail to trace the divine visage;
Such as our Christ at the supreme moment of doubt and isolation is the grounding of his own Buddhahood;
To opt for either extreme can neither expand nor diminish our God Jehovah;
Nothing we have ever been can fail to nourish us, can fail to vanish into His heart.
February 3, 1984
The history of human awareness both in the aggregate and in the individual is really an explication of the procedures that aggregate, that individual, uses to deal with the only real tragedy inherent to conditioned being, and yet, in time, its only real blessing, defining as it must the very lapse upon which all humanity is grounded—the I-Thou split;
The whole movement of consciousness in time both as aggregate and individual is a rending of an original fusion and the desperate attempt to regain that fusion by the very tools inherent to the split itself;
Thus, man tries to think his way back to the Other throughout the course of his tortured life, or, just as well, by the selfsame tools, to obliterate the tools themselves, to annihilate thought, to regain a fusion that is no longer textured by the lapse itself, that is simply an obliteration in
Absence, the satori of zazen or its chemical counterpart which would lose the self, previously extricated from the Other, in a primal blur, in a mystic flight, leaving all the imperatives of conditioned being behind, that one might wallow in a non-discursive flux for the balance of one's incarnate existence and even then beyond, having cheated lapse, having annihilated the very condition of humanity, losing oneself totally to return to essentially nowhere, anywhere, but the primal beginnings from which we so painfully emerged;
There is only the essential Calvary that we must really contend with if we are to effect a genuine release, and that very release is always threatened;
Ideation is retained;
The very force of ideation, its final pitch in sheer paradox, is retained;
The supreme moment of Christ's historical despair is retained;
The inner shriek of Buddha, the only true Buddha, is retained;
There is, in this analysis, only the beatification, that fusion of smile and agony where Newton pleads with Eckhart for a touch of Eckhart's wisdom, where Eckhart pleads with Newton for a touch of Newton's theory, where the very voice of imprisoned intellect is the last threnody of anguish and the anthem of a desperate affirmation, there where imprisonment and utter freedom fuse, there in those anguished moments, there, there, in beatification, only there;
Simply the most threatened serenity has true right to voice here in our troubled Cosmos, this our contemporary version of predicament;
Leary, Muktananda, Oral Roberts, John Paul, prophets of the bubble gum paradise always and eternally saccharine in supreme goodness, we cannot accept your "pretty" resolutions;
Hard enough it is to stomach these pointed fingers;
So much harder, Pilate, let them into your chest.
February 6, 1984
Each of us is within situation so long as we remain human;
The world we experience is within situation;
The very notion of human justice seems to fail to take into consideration the very condition of our existence;
It is an attempt to not only bridge the gulf among the aggregate of situationed beings but to weigh not only the manner in which that aggregate apprehends its reality but that apprehension's collective consequence, a consequence no less infinite than the prerogative of each and every particular subsumed within it;
In this sense, the very notion of human justice is particular bad faith;
There is, aside from whatever orientation it might provide for the enmeshed individual, no human justice;
However, were we to feel the full weight of every particular situationed being, we could not fail to recognize that no one act or artifact, no decision, no willing, no perception, is not total, is not the whole of existence in its very self, is not less than the paramount utterance of existence by the very force of its own particularity, intuiting, as we must, that any particularity is, in fact, not merely the whole but larger, greater, when the whole is, by its nature, constituted as merely aggregate by the particular tools we employ to experience it, the implements of category, the tools of thought;
Thought itself is our constant failure to bridge the very gulf of sundered being, a sundering inherent to the inception of that which would seek to bridge the gulf, subsume the infinite particular, render the awesome radiance of one being's conditioned existence simply datum in the totality of a "larger" conceptual existence;
Each stab, each kiss, must shriek in protest at such quixotic willful reduction;
The cosmic justice which pervades our universe is grounded in the particular, is the particular's grounding, the particular's immensity, a dazzling certainty that nothing can issue from conditioned entity that is not Godhead itself, His very production and fulfillment;
The manner in which any man experiences his universe is, in fact, absolute;
There is no datum of human reality that is amenable to sanction beyond the human plane;
Justice is the very condition of existence;
That justice is never humanly sequestered;
It is total, however, as the Cosmos, as complete as the man who murders in its name.
The ultimate work of art and its representatives, humanly wrought, are the hieroglyphs from which human predicament speaks most clearly;
Aesthetic standards are therefore only of value from within experience where the hieroglyph, once isolated and apprehended, figures, as it were, all the less evident manifestations of human predicament;
There is, in this sense, no bad art;
There is only, in relation to intensity of signification, art that speaks and art that stutters;
No being aspires to stutter;
No being fails to speak;
Some speech, however, is certainly more evident than others;
I speak, myself, not of fluidity but, again, of evidence;
The art of absurdity, on the other hand, is a voice which aspires to detonate its own utterance in order to gain leverage on speech's very necessity;
One would hope to avoid all utterance and, by the same token, reap utterance's final accolade;
Such is the sophistry of the absurdist's art, which would ground itself in its own negation;
The hidden need and presumption is to be honored for ultimate expression by those who fail to see past a basic abdication of the prerequisite of all art, i.e., utterance itself;
To even hear one's own designation of the universe of human affairs, i.e., predicament, as absurd, is to cheat oneself of the veracity of that utterance;
No idea ever entertained is in good faith absurd;
The very notion of absurdity is a massive self-congratulation for having exerted oneself minimally to lift a vacuum;
To take the further step, to lift the further increment, of proclaiming this dubious feat, is the most swinish deification of selfhood;
And yet, where in cringing Jehovah's kingdom is this self but detonated with the original onanistic simple self-presumption?
February 7, 1984
In the primordial state, before one becomes what we experience as human, the individual consciousness is not simply imbedded in its surroundings;
There is not merely what we can term I-Thou fusion, for there is, in reality, only Being;
What Cassirer would consider a "mere rhapsody of perception" from which the Spirit extricates itself in a condition of growth, I would term Absolute Sprit from which the Spirit lapses into entrapment;
Upon the advent of even rudimentary knowledge, where the flux of consciousness, afloat on eternal now, begins to concretize in recognizable states or attributes, there is simply no way forward and no way back;
One moves further toward thought in the merciless quest for thought's annihilation;
One attempts to regain the bliss of Being but strains further toward isolation;
Confusion is the very primordial state of immersion in a reality which is unqualified, without location, timeless, spaceless, infinite;
The partial confusions are all that is left for us the moment we can freeze, so to speak, one increment of the "rhapsody";
The partial confusions, the partial clarities, are our attempt to reach across the barrier between I and Thou, even the descent into I and it, to effect a renascence of fusion, to effect Being itself;
They are always ill fated;
They are the genesis of our torment;
On the other hand, there is only one human, totally relevant state for any consciousness in this, our condition of isolation, and that is the contemporary, the cutting edge of the initial confusion as presently apprehended, i.e., paradox and its fiercest articulation;
Paradox is the textured confusion of the isolated being who apprehends in the total welter of partial resolutions an eternal contradiction;
One dwells on contradiction and precipitates, at the very edge of madness, true statement, the very utterance of all conditioned being, all humanity, a paradigm of the initial lapse and the whole history of our struggle to surmount it, either as aggregate or as individual;
This is the only message of conditioned existence;
There is no other message before it;
There is only abdication;
The latter is always our temptation;
One the other hand, we can only flee, in absolute terms, toward ourselves;
Just as our confusions, the flight is always partial;
The clash of partials is the genesis, I repeat, of all our pain.
February 17, 1984
It may be closer to the truth here to assert that a state of utter confusion is a state of total location;
To rest, that is, in location, total location, is the very nature of satori, were one to grant the presumption of approaching an absolute condition, as it were, from the outside;
Let us say that in the condition or lack of condition one designates as satori there is no possibility of displacement from the thereness, the thusness, the tathata, the location one experiences, a resting in presence which is so total, so totally absent, that one can never assume even for an instant that there is another time, another location, another space beyond the totality of space and time, spacelessness and timelessness one lives (dies) in an utter moment, an unending moment's lack that can never be pulled outside itself, that can never qualify itself by the apprehension of an Other, let alone an it, that is not Self and within the primal experience;
Such is not human;
All desire, all appetite, has ended;
The experience of Buddha is the experience of self-annihilation, the utterly embraced lack of self, the effaced context;
To rest in confusion is to leap beyond all prerogatives of conditioned being;
It is to leap toward all lack of leap;
It is to leap toward all lack of toward;
It is to rest in the very center of will-lessness, a center so absolute in its location as to efface location.;
Juxtaposed to this beatific falsity, this abdication, is the other leap, the other falsity, so common as to nearly escape detection—a progression in certainty, an unqualified progression by qualified means;
One murders the Christ himself, paradox, the agony of conditioned existence, to embrace a totality at the expense of its own ground;
To experience Buddha is to create an absence, a hole in the Cosmos;
To proceed in certainty is to lacerate the Cosmos, its very texture;
Both the lack of movement and the very force of movement are the condition for all iniquity, all bad faith where it is to be human;
Only the utterly human can hold to the fiercest denial of absolution, and hold it must;
There is the warp of beatitude and the warp of profanation;
Each creates its God;
Even the Buddha's smile creates its God;
The noblest vision is simply a hole in it.
February 21, 1984
To describe a universe which answers to human judgment one must really bend judgment, and still the latter fails—that which has begun has never begun;
That which progresses has never progressed;
That which has ended has never ended;
That which has begun has always ended;
That which has ended has never begun;
We are within a situation, which, totally determined, proceeds in a state of utter indeterminateness;
We create a resolution from within a situation which is always resolved from without;
The God we call into existence is the source of our very need to create Him;
The existence we call into God is the source of our very need to create it;
There is only so much God as has always been, always been resolved, but from within our situation we always continue to enact Him, always to create Him;
From within we proceed toward the determination of existence as Godhead, a determination which, from without, has always been, always begun, always ended;
In any of these approximations there is recourse to space and time and the attempt to step beyond them, but even here discourse turns on itself, relies on spatial metaphor, on sequence, to fix the non-discursive, to describe, to delineate, the very Christhood of existence, its ongoing fulfillment as paradox;
Such as God is and must be by His very quiddity, answering as He must, to a leap of human judgment from within the process which must always, according to His dictation, usher Him into existence, there is never an end to paradox;
There is never a lack of completion;
The brashest profanation is a touch of His existence;
We can never avoid the act of definition which it is to be human.
February 22, 1984
The curse and paramount blessing of conditioned existence is to be utterly in time, straining to escape it;
With the loss of I-Thou fusion is the loss of eternity and the entrapment in a moment which is neither past nor future but straining for both, in a moment which is rarely present, rarely not straining to be anywhere other than present;
Locked in eternal now, all sentience other than the specifically human is precisely situated, precisely in its suchness;
The world for it lacks nothing;
The pain it feels is never binding;
On human terms it is utterly unreal;
There is simply an absolute plenitude, a lulling fluidity;
Everything, even fear itself, is simply given, sufficient unto itself;
There is nowhere else to exist;
On the other hand, for conditioned being the real universe is always somewhere beyond the apprehended suchness of a given now;
It is a universe of everything without which the present loses its savor, without which the present is simply something to flee;
To be truly human is to live ever sucked from confronted given, a situation without situation, boundless, overflowing;
All we are not and ever strive to endure is the universe which it is to be specifically human, the universe of yearning, disquiet, of the sense of lack so poignant in its total measure as to overwhelm that other reality, that satori, that textureless divinity, the lack of Christ;
Only the anguished messiah in each of us can obtain full measure of what it is to be human, to be trapped in time, in a past beyond measure, a future beyond measure, to be straining ever toward both, toward ultimate figment, straining so utterly as to texture a whole pageant of existence, as to texture a God;
There is otherwise only Absence;
Sequence could never create it.
February 25, 1984
The doubt mass of the zen disciple reaches its fiercest density when the total reality of contradiction has accumulated without abeyance;
Beyond that it shatters, and the monk achieves satori;
The ego, the conditioned, is effaced, and the monk, now adept, swims in a sea of realized confusion, in an immensity where there is no fear of grounding in any particular, any configuration, of seeing the world again from the tightened perspective;
By the same token, the true Christian, that being who experiences Calvary to its utter degree, ascends to total paradox, a mass unto itself in which every configuration, every assertion of conditioned being, is articulated to its utmost extent, in which all configurations, fiercely articulated, clash in the most agonizing pitch of desperation;
Here man attains to the infinite as realized paradox and falls back on himself in despair, a constriction of supreme ego, its total thwarting, juxtaposed to the supreme lack of ego, its total effacement in satori;
Humankind is truly concerned only with the Christian oscillation, with this solely human tremor of predicament;
On the other hand, a human deity is solely preoccupied with predicament's effacement in the final exhalation of all ego, in shattered context, satori;
There is the hugeness of despair and the hugeness of bliss;
The former is Christhood, the latter Buddha;
For the achieved Christian there is no end of the dark night, no ending of the thwarting of supreme ambition, the desire to grasp an alien universe in human terms, in the very configurations which clash in felt paradox;
For the Buddhist, utterly achieved, doubt mass shattered, there is only an effaced context, a total release from all configuration, the sea of unending bliss;
These are two movements, two extremes;
Between them man slumbers;
For him only minor aggravations, privations, irritations, ecstasies;
Even a death by fire can have no utter impact upon the common man, for his sleep is simply inhuman;
Agony itself is tenuous;
From the Buddha to the Christ a chasm buries the mass of humanity, oblivious to the problematical nature of conditioned existence;
Where there is neither impetus toward Calvary nor toward the Buddha smile there is only lethargy, a world in stupor;
Here is neither humankind nor humankind's transcendence, from divine agony to divine bliss the gulf of everyman buried in a morass of dullness, simply lacking definition, neither monk nor Judas, Christ nor Saul.
March 2, 1984
There is no assertion that is not problematic, that does not reduce the basic issue it addresses, that does not fail in its attempt to essentially include everything by the bad faith of including nothing;
In this sense, all statement is metaphor for predicament, that man is contained, seeking everything, that man abdicates everything in search of his own containment;
There is no statement that does not graphically mirror this content of human existence, this lack of it;
One cannot utter without uttering the universe;
Even in the very denial of utterance, in the total constriction of small talk, in the blunt exhalation of an oath, in the act of naming, in the most circumscribed delineation of a reduced reality, the blueprint of predicament is framed in stark relief;
There is no statement that is not utterance, none that does not define God, particularly in its thirst to extricate itself from the need or capacity to do so;
Essentially language is the attempt to deny our responsibility for the lapse of conditioned being, to avoid it at all cost;
The very tic of it, the nervous discharge, would have us free of guilt;
There is neither freedom in utterance nor in silence;
Even the latter utters;
Phoneme, syllable, word, the act of punctuation, sentence, epic, novel—all figure the human condition, the estrangement, the yearning;
Utterance is the necessity for utterance;
It states no further, even in its loftiest exhalation, than that very necessity;
It avoids that necessity, the basic texture of conditioned being, even in bluntest oath;
All utterance is equivalent;
All fails utterly but figures everything in its failure;
It is impossible to avoid speech;
There is nothing, not God, not the utter murder of conditioned being, ever before it;
Each effects the other in the resolution of human predicament;
Just as well, one can never lie without betraying in the very act one's basic commitment to truth;
There are no falsities;
There is only predicament, the very voice we give to God that He might serve His own texture in the ongoing hymn of existence.
March 6, 1984
The individual, firmly juxtaposed to its surroundings in a condition of equality, equality of presence, is, in essence, its surroundings at the calmest heightened intensity, is, in fact, boundless by that very juxtaposition, that participation through absolute apprehension and confrontation with its own givenness and the givenness of its other self, that which, juxtaposed, shares the moment;
At that instant or lack of instant, the spell of equality broken, at that instant or lack of instant, the self yearning toward that which surrounds it, at that instant or lack of instant, the self coveting that which it apprehends, there is no longer confrontation in its purity but rather the creation of an alien universe;
The present leaks toward the future;
The givenness of the boundless instant leaks toward absent time;
A universe of longing is enacted;
That which was sufficient unto itself is utterly effaced as divine mutual participation, becomes context from which one yearns, and in yearning, produces universe;
In this sense, the Cosmos is the obliteration of satori, rather its articulation in a trapped configuration, self, ego, the caught sentience which seeks only to escape, and in escaping to create anything other than that which it has passively confronted;
We can envisage the Creation as a God which has lost its taste for a passive infinity and has surged beyond toward figment, absence, an infinity of yearning;
Here the loss to existence is in itself boundless, as total as that absence which is thereby enacted, as total as the utter writhing universe, all that which is never fully realized as opposed to that which was ever realized, the never-to-be-circumscribed given moment utterly confronted, totally apprehended;
We thirst for God and God is created;
God thirsts for Himself in us, and God, the lapse, textured Jehovah, is created;
God thirsts for us and a universe is thrust into existence, a Cosmos utterly lacking and never to be realized, a Cosmos of texture, a texturing of God;
There is no God without this initial thirst of Godhead for Himself, for His utter fruition;
Just as well, there is no humankind, no Christhood, without it;
In isolation we trigger God;
In isolation we are given birth toward his never-ending absence, His lack of completion;
In that initial flick of fierce energy across an endless chasm is man's necessity, that sentience without which a schizophrenic Deity can never fully complete Himself, that absence which He generated in His first felt need for textured existence, an existence apart from Him.
March 7, 1984
The axis of the universe, the supreme womb of God, the ultimate context from which His texture issues, that utter humanity which is the very force of all conditioned existence, that martyrdom which is the sacrifice of God Himself and His very completion, that very paradigm, the moment of doubt on Golgotha—there is nowhere else to look for human suffering, human entrapment;
When the forsaken Christ inhales the total pain of constricted existence after his uncontested messiahship, when he reaches inward toward total despair, when there is no longer God for him or his mission, when mission is defunct, when there is neither purpose nor thrust to his death's agony, when all is brutal paradox, here is the crystalized, the articulated instant which it is to be utterly human, to be human beyond the possibility of imitation or understanding;
That agony on Calvary, that haunted awakening unto futility and defeat, is the totality of existence, of universe, without which God has no necessity, no real claim to our very human existence;
We breathe in Christ;
We expire in his absence;
The denial of his divinity is the denial of his humanity, his paradigmatic presence for all eternity, for all that is human, conditioned;
There is no God without man and his universe;
There is no God without Christ;
The Buddha smile is the very absence of man, the very absence of God;
One can worship annihilation only at the risk of becoming Christ;
One can attain to it only at the promise of becoming Buddha;
Neither Buddha nor Christ is simply God;
The former is God's very lack of existence for a sentience utterly without texture;
It is His resolution in absence;
The latter is God's agony, His very face;
Within the ultimate moment, the forsaken Christ, is the genesis of universe and God, the stab of destiny from which all God, all universe proceeds, the dark wound toward which all leaks, the radiance which is man, conditioned being, the solitary impetus for any God we might conjure into existence;
One can never become fully Christ;
We can only attempt him;
The key to existence is the historical reality of ultimate metaphor, paramount being crying out to his Creator, fearful that there is no one there to hear;
Such cry, such being, is axis, the total aesthetic fact;
It is the incarnation of cruelty, the incarnation of God.
To attain to predicament is to attain to Christ;
One can imagine his situation;
One cannot imagine his inner speech;
Such dialogue is Christ and man, Christ and Christ, Christ and God;
Through the wound of his being leaks the entire Cosmos of mortal travail, all that aspires to divinity, all that reaches for God in its isolation;
Within the wound of Christ is man himself, is God, is dialogue;
There is no other situation before him;
The deity he attains to is our Christhood;
Such deity is our humanity;
Such deity is our face;
To be sucked into utter privation, to experience pure doubt and despair, to feel fire and its agony, is to participate in the humanization, the texturing of God Jehovah;
Predicament is the dialectic that would seek to define itself as simply the boundary of all possibility, the constriction of voice, the dribbling canker in God's flawless radiance, here in the crucial instant trapped by a crown of thorns, here trapped by a vertical cross;
We can never fully attain to that horror;
It is Christ's alone;
We can never attain to his inner speech;
It is the speech of a God on fire;
No amount of physical pain would record it;
Isolation itself is its import, betrayal its message;
The kiss of Judas was loving to infinite degree in comparison to that moment Jehovah withdrew His grace from the savior of mankind, withdrew it from Himself;
There is no other wound before it;
In that fearsome moment, in that loving damnation, God was wrenched into human existence;
The voice was no longer monologue;
We were at last in struggle with our Creator;
Given voice, we were giving Him voice;
All else was dialogue;
We were given predicament;
We were given Himself;
To reach for Golgotha is to REACH for mystery;
The Resurrection has no human message;
It exists at that moment when supreme limitation beyond the point of ever bearing is triggered into bliss;
Such was Christ's decision and mercy;
There is no other message beyond Golgotha;
An instant beyond torture is the smile of Creation;
Buddha himself delivers;
Its texture, however, is always haunted Christ.
March 14, 1984
Christ's life, whose sequence is the very exhalation and inhalation of prayer's momentum, inexorably leading toward prayer's highest pitch, that Christ's life ends in that moving protest, that circumscription of doubt, that inhalation of agonized paradox, that it proceeds only inhumanly by way of his final renewal of faith, i.e., the Resurrection, that his whole life was without lapse a preparation, an inhalation of that moment and an exhalation of that final release, would lead us to believe that of all historical beings, this Christ is the very most human, the very most human life, the fully articulated voice toward his Creator which all of us consciously or unconsciously emulate, whether in the litany of kiss or the psalm of murder;
There is no moment of human sentience, no constriction, no aggrandizement, no futility or ambition, that does not aspire to prayer, that is not its import and its essential condition;
That we define our Jehovah even in the act of love, our Maitreya even in the act of slaughter, that nothing proceeds from man and his basic condition other than the Godhead itself, goes without saying;
Even the executioner cannot fail to proceed in his own terms with the execution of God;
We are locked in God and His definition;
We are locked in prayer;
The God we create is the God we opt for in living;
A God of stab is really only our basic preference for a certain resolution;
A God of kiss is only another preference;
We cannot avoid the generation of Godhead;
We cannot avoid His solicitation;
The quality of a life, if ever one can speak of such, is the quality of the God it creates in action, in choice;
Aesthetically, there is no other choice before it;
It is simply there;
One cannot opt for murder without soliciting into existence a God of murder, of murder's very texture;
In prayer, in all decision, we fashion our God;
To worship Christ is to opt for a certain resolution of predicament, a certain texturing of God;
It is to opt for a direction, to choose a God;
To prostrate one's being before that consummately human figure is to lend one's support to an ultimately human conspiracy, God as human God, God as agony on the threshold of Resolution;
In all manner of faith, choice is simply what we fashion of this universe;
No choice, however noble, however grotesque, is without its dignity;
No choice, however perverse, is without its Christ.
March 15, 1984
There is no certainty beyond the metaphorical value of assertion;
The vehicle is patent;
It is brute utterance itself;
The tenor struggles to complete itself in each increment of history;
Always tenuous, it becomes, in fact, further assertion, hence vehicle, hence tenor, hence vehicle, an unending process of paradox and its resolution;
We are always within this process, always circumscribed by the furthest reach of it;
There is no truth that does not generate its transcendence, if not obliteration, by the ongoing, ever accruing reach for all truth, any truth that would release us from its own damnation, its own poignant accruing betrayal, here within predicament, whose only absolute is the very quest for a chimera so real, so very evident that no one can flee it even toward the cloak of absurdity, the threnody of every splendor, every certainty, which time has relegated to curiosity, relic, quaint vestige of a no longer viable past;
Even in this fear there is no threat of the relative;
From all time there are hieroglyphs which we covet as having tasted of the final resolution;
In the greatest art, whether created or lived, there is the articulation of process, of predicament itself, the quest that all men honor, even in stupor, even in dullness, rapacity or death;
That we can never escape predicament, that we will always strive to resolve it, that no human fact or artifact is bereft of this basic yearning, that no assertion nor its patent contradiction in counter-assertion, that no dialectic does not exist to reach for the very obliteration of process or its termination in horror or beatitude—all this is fact, all metaphor;
One can simply live it or enact it by the force of creation;
One can never escape it;
One can never escape the condition of paradox, its bliss and terror;
All faith would have us bleed the very Christ of conditioned being out of existence, the Buddha, the church;
The coarsest sacrileges known to man are a litany with a vanished God;
We can scream Him out of our prison;
He will resurrect as the jeans commercial, as Grünewald's ravaged messiah;
If there is any assertion that will not bear contradiction it is contradiction itself;
In the end there is no end to it;
On the other hand, Christ and commercial, jeans and God, have always ended, never begun;
We will always try to speak;
Silence demands it.
March 20, 1984
The surest route to a presumed messiah is the art which depicts him;
The bathos of a dime-store crèche, of a neon crucifix, of a macramé virgin, is really the measure of how far our culture attains to its inmost concerns;
Here, trivialized to its utter extent, is the comfortable Jesus which sustains us;
We live in an age where even our agonies are trite;
The redeemer with which we feel most at home here in our desacralized era can never compete with Madison Avenue;
One must in fact feed the other;
The redeemer of Grünewald, of a Piero della Francesca, is simply defunct;
We attain to John F. Kennedy on a mauve toilet seat;
We attain to "Golden Boy" in the newly constructed AT&T building in downtown Manhattan;
The paradigm of all Western art, that embodiment of predicament itself, the Christ of total despair and constriction, is so fully remote from our era, our era's concerns, that such figures embodied in an anonymous sculptor's art, replete with agonized tendons, a leper's visage, with scabrous small-boned hands impaled on vivid spikes, that medieval visionary's experience of our dull fairy tale, the focus of our reverence here in the age of IBM, can only repulse, for we have been told to walk on by, to overlook, to turn aside from the very core of our existence, that emptiness which has all the potential for agony, that fire which breathes within which has all the import for pain that one might have ever confronted in those centuries of plague and carnage so remotely behind us, behind our vacuity, our delectation and avoidance, our material pursuits;
We will never be utterly without that wayward messiah and his image-makers no matter how much we scale them down to wedge them into our hearts;
Somewhere, even here among us, they must again erupt, some chance moment when the voyage from one obfuscation to the next is stabbed with utter horror, that moment when we see and see too clearly;
There with that wrenching we will reek again with the utter constriction we have masked with all our dullness, all our lies;
There will we convulse, implode into dark absence, faith or being, Christ or Buddha;
There will we once again be real;
Somewhere in the future are our future Pietàs;
I cannot help but fear them.
March 22, 1984
The supremely aesthetic fact is the supremely aestheticized life, paradigm for all narrative, all lyric, hieroglyph for all mankind which would attain to supreme drama, and yet that life is supremely fated, utter damnation, drawn to its own tragic finish as its total achievement;
The genius of Christ was the very orchestration of his own torture and demise, anticipating full well that no conquering messiah could ever imprint itself on man's conscience as indelibly as the slaughtered lamb, as its agonized futility;
One is never drawn to the homilies, the pathetic little miracles;
The supreme drama of Christ is always the Passion, the final moments on Golgotha toward which the cliché-entangled life inexorably proceeds;
Even and especially those final outcries are drama, consummate art;
Here the humble craftsman reaches to the fire of Aeschylus, in fact obliterates all of Aschylus, all of Sophocles, nearly all of that coming giant in 16th Century England, for only LEAR can attain to the fearful pathos of this, our forsaken God;
One could never forgive this carpenter of an empirical resurrection, for the latter would rudely overwhelm all of mankind;
Recorded history would end with that burning fact;
That the empty tomb was merely a bit of reediting by a few zealous disciples or their namesakes seems rather the uncontested certainty;
One never attains to such apochrypha;
When Christ expires in faith the drama is completed;
No art can ever fully attain to that constriction, that release;
There where Jesus triggers into smile is deliverance;
There is aesthetic fact;
There is victory;
Only consummate victim can ever attain to forgiveness for such a sweeping presumption;
Should the worst have ensued for all mankind, should the artist have stepped down from his rack of pain to claim an earthly dominion, all this Cosmos would have endured its own suicide, there invincibly determined for a preemptory kingdom of the blessed forever and ever, world without end, amen;
Such is the stuff of Disney;
Such is the stuff of Norman Vincent Peale;
No self-respecting victim could ever forgive him, the writhing of all existence reduced to a Loony Tune.
March 25, 1984
A fully imprinted context, however trite, transcends itself;
The aesthetic experience is our participation in that transcendence;
In an era of profanation, the artifact which transmits full context is all the sacral available to us;
In it alone is context fully realized, fully transcended.
A fleck of paint on a canvas is the positing of a reality in the place of an infinitude of possibility;
A second fleck is the positing of a reality in the place of an infinitude of possibility minus the first fleck;
The two flecks exist as separately and compositely posited realities;
The completed canvas, all flecks, no matter how realized, is both the total constriction of possibility for the space of a given canvas and a certain measure of achieved imprint;
If the imprint is totally achieved, this utter constriction of possibility is a universe, for it is a context;
It is both the utter constriction of possibility and possibility's utter fruition;
It is a death and a birth.
An artist who achieves himself in paint no longer exists as simple context;
He has vanished into the totality of possibility as represented by its total constriction, its total fruition as achieved imprint;
All art is the death of being and being's transcendence;
One cannot create oneself fully without participating in the suicide of a universe;
One achieves everything at the expense of one's context;
A totally achieved context, once fully imprinted, ceases to exist as person but never fails to exist as God;
The Christ in each of us is the art we attain to, whether as participant or martyr;
The greatest art is always a martyrdom and an act of reverence;
Rodin gave up his life for our sins;
He resurrects in THE GATES OF HELL, in JOHN THE BAPTIST;
There are no other Rodins before him.
July 14, 1984
If a sheet of paper in one's visual field covers part of a word, the impulse may certainly exist to remove the paper in order to discover the full word;
However, in a work of art, a painting, for example, if a swath of color, representing perhaps a sheet of paper, covers part of a word, the impulse to remove the swath may still exist but can never be brought into fruition;
Therefore, swath and part of a word represent a completed meaning unit, even to the degree that the desire to disrupt it contributes its own share;
In the same fashion, an achieved painting is a completed meaning unit because the possibilities it supplants are no longer a threat to it, for their achievement is in no sense a real possibility;
Supplanted possibilities can only contribute to the canvas, the completed meaning unit;
They can never detract from it;
Here we have the difference between a visual field in life and the visual field comprised by a work of art;
For the former, all other possibilities can interfere or subtract from the experience of the field one confronts;
For the latter, all other possibilities can at most contribute;
At the least they are irrelevant or neutral;
The visual field of one's natural environment, untouched by the artist's hand, is seldom ever complete;
It is, all too frequently, a source of anguish or experienced lack, for the possibilities it supplants are ever there to diminish it, attack its wholeness, its ability to truly nourish;
Art exists largely to overcome this difficulty one entertains with the given fact;
It renders such fact a completed meaning unit;
Only the truly liberated human being can find one elsewhere.
July 15, 1984
A painting becomes achieved by becoming the universe;
It becomes the universe either by suggesting it as an extension of the fragment it presents, as in open painting, open form, or it becomes the universe by containing it as microcosm, as in closed painting, closed form;
A painting relies on either of these stratagems or both;
It cannot aspire to itself without containing or suggesting a Cosmos;
We cannot bear a simple fragment;
Such is simply a cheat and a deception;
Pity the artist whose ambition can simply include a portion of his vision in flight toward a generalized manner of viewing a generalized Cosmos;
He will reap the accolades of his generation and thereafter fade into oblivion with the generalized view he has uttered;
Prostrate oneself before the individual who has achieved the common, i.e., his own particular vision, has imprinted it on canvas, in the plastic resistance of stone;
The very particularity of his imprinted vision ensures his commonality with every infinitely divergent commonality, each imprint, each vision that speaks only of itself, and, hence, a universe;
In the circumscribed, self-involuted voice, is ultimate expansion;
One can never attempt a world without turning one's back on it.
July 17, 1984
By erasing all subject one can still achieve and, in fact, must achieve paramount subject;
In the end, technique is the highest subject available to us beyond the given fact;
A given fact is a completed meaning unit;
Technique is its realization;
Pity such technique which cannot aspire purely to itself;
Pity the given fact which has never participated in that aspiration;
All human existence aspires to art;
All human existence aspires to itself;
Nature is trying to copy us;
A starry night is simply an incomplete van Gogh;
There is no such thing as a small work of art;
The achieved must humble the Milky Way, whose only human concern is that we would give it human voice;
The Cosmos is essentially an aesthetic, hence, human decision.
July 19, 1984
An aesthetic decision on the part of an artist is always no more than what to include and what to exclude;
Any created entity is a massive exclusion;
Whatever it includes must be so irrevocable in its nature as to ultimately permit even the excluded its proper voice;
Such is the achieved artifact;
It is marked by necessity;
The only necessity which is relevant to artifact and its completion is the creator's very most intimate, private needs, i.e., those he shares with others only by accident and never by will;
The totally isolated fact is the artist who has permitted himself to exist utterly in artifact, the artist whose every decision has been taken with his whole being directed inward toward what separates himself from others, that very particular which defines himself, ironically, as utterly common with all;
Only the completely self-involved can ever create a believable universe, one whose every character, every nuance, "rings true";
True empathy is to experience always the Self, even while passionately observing the Other;
All else is sentiment, aesthetic suicide.
It must be fashioned with urgency, a religion appropriate to the needs of our era, a religion of art;
The foremost concern is that we refashion our mythic heritage to meet the demands of a generation of automata;
Mankind must again be humanized, even if by a scream.
To fashion in art a relevant Christ is to become the spokesman of an era;
Only when the message has become irrelevant will it reach an open ear.
July 31, 1984
2010 [May 6]