June 6, 2017 § 1 Comment
Here is something David Byrne writes in his book, How Music Works. Bode’s Law, formulated in the 1760s, proposed some constants that predicted where new planets would be found–where the next “harmony” would be. Just as one can predict musical overtones. Only Neptune, furthest from the sun, didn’t fit the pattern, so the law was pretty much relegated to the nonsense heap. That is, until Walter Murch, the sound designer and film editor, dusted off the discarded law and simplified the formula by doing away with the Astronomical Unit and concentrating on the ratios (which also had the effect of doing away with earth-as-center). That way, you could use the law for other orbital systems, and again and again you’d find the same sets of ratios–like musical ratios. Some systems occupy certain orbits, and “playing” the different orbits generates recognizable chords. That is to say, the series of orbital ratios offered up by Bode’s Law are mathematically identical to common musical intervals. Mostly, they’re variations on the 7th chord (C, E, G, B flat).
As Byrne writes: “You might say that the universe plays the blues.”
So, some blues:
June 6, 2017 § 2 Comments
Painted clumsily from an intriguing photo found in a moldy encyclopedia / uploaded / digitally manipulated. The machine encodes a new sight and she labors on. I put an unwanted VHS in my VCR to see if it still worked, and sure enough the machine ate the tape without playing a single image. Instead of taking the machine apart, as I did with my DVD player (whatever I did to it caused it to work in 20 second increments before Laurence Fishburne’s face froze midthought), I threw it away. I also threw away the encyclopedia, as my lungs wouldn’t stand for it. I changed my mind. I was thinking it’d be best to commit to irony. Also perversity. Think of gardens in terms of familial bacteria in the soil, not origin stories. Since I’m by no means a legitimate offspring, the concept of familial obligations befuddles me, though it certainly doesn’t elude me entirely. Having been unable to sleep much for the last month, not truly from worry but from feeling a lack of need to do so, I tangentially contemplate the familial relationships that have impacted me most. This comes from my brother, one of them, who died without my ever having met him. This is a relationship with the self, I suppose, as I constructed him from, I’ll call it data, which I gathered, manipulated, and constructed into a companion to whom I could relate efficiently and with a sense of closeness that most closely approximates the closeness provided by nonhuman beings. I think I am not capable of sustaining a digital manipulation, if that’s what it is, that would cause me harm–so I think of it as being the digital version of a fantasy. And/or analogous to a digital survival instinct. Analog digital, ha. I really think I do not lament the “human condition”, as such. Not that that is a concept with any universal definition. Sometimes, when I speak of such things, the speaking distorts it, it becomes ordinary. But I don’t think of it as ordinary, I don’t think progress is ordinary. That’s what it is, in part. Perhaps there is no way to describe it simply, never mind directly. Machines are pleasurable. Fasting is pleasurable. Life in the absence of overstimulation is pleasurable. Crowds, the tinny music seeping from headphones, lawn mowers, the whir of air conditioners balanced on windowsills, being jostled, being sneaked up on and screamed at (never do such things), smoke, crowds, crowds, blaring alarms, invasive suburban weaponwielding. Any pleasure derived from any hypercharged environment feels more like anger than pleasure, in fact it started as anger and probably resolves in defeat. Aren’t the suburbs understimulating? To be honest, that’s where I thought I was going with this. But. The hyperpleasure derived from overstimulation is a chaotic and hopeless kind that requires the human body to bring it to a predictable resolution. But how can it, really?
June 5, 2017 § Leave a comment
HAPPY 1: It seems to me that ‘ahem’ ought to be written as it is truly pronounced (or as it truly lacks pronounciation, or at least ought to): ‘cccccckmmmmmmmhh’, like a thick bubble of ash wedged deep in the larynx. Otherwise, our children, as they learn to read, will find themselves stuck in heaps and barrels of amorphous befuddlement upon encountering such disagreeable nonsense sounds. ‘Whatever in all the burbling volcanoes of Jupiter (assuming such a place exists) could this possibly mean?’ they will wonder. ‘Why is it that, in the midst of Father Orion’s fatherly lesson, he suddenly implores his congregation to mend hems?’ We cannot be expected to explain. It is enough that one day we’re to take as truth that planets other than earth exist, never mind that the next day some faraway people, as far away as they can be while still, of course, remaining on earth, revoke all of our good standings. Allow me to attend to this hem while I continue speaking, if you please–oh, I must add, I do appreciate certain puns. Do not hesitate to pun with me, but please, be very particular about it. Ahem, ahem: do you hear how disagreeable that is? The way that we draw attention to ourselves is nothing short of phlegmmy, and ‘cccccckmmmmmmmhh’ surely bespeaks a great deal of phlegm. I am sure you might have gathered, I hope you have gathered, I am sure, I am certain, that you realize that I am normally quite polite. Nothing short of it. But I demand that you listen to me. I will use my entire throat in order to be heard. This is the only context, I assure you, in which I find phlegm remotely proper. Like a bear preparing for hibernation, I gather phlegm in my throat to slurp into my gut, and at the tip of autumn’s very tail I bring it up and into the faces of disobedient children while the winter, the spring, the summer, dart disdainfully around us. Speaking of phlegm, I would be happy to discuss with you the etymology of the term ‘phlegmatic’. I would be happy to boil you–a pot of tea, that is. Ah, I see that you are soon to give birth. Do you need me to induce labor? I could do that as well. The herbs in this tea should surely suffice. Indeed, I would be happy to. I would be happy. I would.
SAD 1: (hisses) bastard! that vile idiot bastard! why does he persist in prattling from his anus?
SAD 1: (clears throat in a manner unapproved by the state) allow me to begin anew. ‘ahem’ backwards is ‘meh-a!’ [dash and exclamation mine] which accurately depicts the spasmodic nature of my precarious pole vaults round the perimeter of The Vast Continuum of Oblivion.
TEXT MESSAGE FROM SAD 1 TO SAD 2: i have thought to reclaim the word ‘introvert’ by converting (congreening) the term into a component of what i intend to call Environmental Frenchglish. henceforth, ‘introgreen’ will connote a tendency toward the conservation of one’s energies as a phlegm-free whirling fortune ball spinning on an axis in the cerebellum, to either seep or bolt into the world at the will of the two energy balls orbiting one another at some unspecified future. or never, never works just as well: the self has every right to contain the self, after all. there is, however, a third ball. the third ball cares nothing for the self as the self conceives of itself. we must speak of this surreptitiously, please: meet me at the hidden boulevard beneath the rusty bridge. lastly, if this does not make sense, think of it as a kind of performance art avec letters in which i demonstrate that i’ve introgreened your translucent despair over your miscreant status in the world, and shall at the very moment following this one–THIS one–carve it into the walls of my cave in neohieroglyphs. i am reclaiming those as well. i have become very large. could it be that the time has come to extrogreen? such a mess i shall make; but, knowing what i know, i shall encounter few problems in sopping it all up. adieu a dew.
TEXT MESSAGE FROM SAD 2 TO SAD 1: are you a thief or a reclaimer, an inventor or a convertor? in ‘invent’ there is a ‘vent’, in ‘convert’ there is ‘covert’, in ‘carve’ there is a ‘cave’ (as you’ve duly noted), in ‘context’ there is ‘cotex’, though yoga wear is not quite what i had in mind for you. i’d encourage you to take the threads back to the first room; why not knit a sonnet whilst pointing out to our ‘superiors’ that there is indeed a ‘hem’ in ‘phlegm’. do you need me to soak up your blood? again? shows what you know. the boiling, phlegmmy midwife is rubbing off on me. go to her. note this also: i do not speak French. dammit, stop bothering me. it’s bad enough that you’ve swiped my face.
SAD 2: We mill about in winding lines. We carry our trays, single-palmed, heaped to the edge with sopping bread. The other hand attends to tall plastic cups, the contents of which slosh from side to side as we weave in and out in unspooled crochet lines. Nothing spills over. Not in here. Today’s joke: Tapioca is so off-pudding.
SAD 1 DISGUISED AS HAPPY 1(REPRISE) (DESPONDENT, WITH BUT A TRACE OF IRONY):
i most certainly
will never write a sad death
haiku, let alone
two, for that would be
nothing short of très très très
très très très très gauche
HAPPY 2 DISGUISED AS SAD 2: The edge of the dominant left hand aims toward nostalgia, incessantly inking onto each fresh line, and each gone one, the blurred shadows of the words it’s picked up along the way. To make this caprice worthwhile, I invest in versicolored inks to spill whilst winding round The Scant Spectrum of Inebriation.
HAPPY SAD SAD HAPPY: On est tous dans the same boat. (We are all in le même bateau.) Etiam atque etiam. (Again and again.) Diese Situation requires our ganzen Aufmerksamkeit. (This situation…this situation…etiam: attention, attention, ccccckmmh.) We have beschlossen eine neue Wohnung zu suchen. (We are going away. We are going to a new place. We are going. We are.) Estamos muy confundidos. (…..?….¿..) Far and wide. (Longe atque late.)
HAPPY SAD SAD HAPPY (ONE MONTH LATER): We have learned to work together. Some of us deal with the bills, others carve sculptures out of papayas and dumptrucks and pen songs meant for cattle. There are very few songs dedicated to cattle. Downstairs, there is a neighbor. She is a brunette and she has a face that is both round and long. She interns at the hospital. The one above the bridge. We have never been there. She eats in the hospital cafeteria: horse-hoof molds, tendon loaves. She is comprised of 7 Happys and 2 Sads. Later this year, following the event of her wealthy grandmothers’ sudden death, one of her Sads will interrupt one of her Happys’ leisurely moonlight swims down her bloodstream by biting off and swallowing half of it. Moonlight seeps through the skin. We have learned to feel and to see these things. We have learned that outnumbered Sads have the sharpest teeth. Thus, the greedy Sad shall initiate a lifelong battle among the brunette’s Happys and Sads. The will the grandmother will leave behind is punctuated by a tapestry of clauses. There are things the brunette intern with the roundlong face shall have to do in order to claim her ‘rightful’ bounty. She will struggle. She will struggle like the cattle for whom we sing songs. She owns the loveliest vase, the Grandmother. She claims it is a Grecian urn. It is not. But it is lovely nonetheless, smooth and curved as a photoshopped buttock. The vase, not the grandmother. After they happen–the death, the swallowing–our neighbors’ half-eaten Happy confuses her all the time. It is at the forefront of her mind: that haggardly Happy somehow outweighing the 6 intact Happys, the 1 intact Sad, the 1 bloated, greedy, muck-thick Sad combined. Before these things, our neighbor never knew that she had been granted a distinct number of Happys and Sads, never mind that certain elite entities (armed with cryptic, illegible notes provided for blank-faced entities propped behind high countertops) could assist in constructing partitions amongst them. She, on her own (and missing every point, as she is wont to do), will try to reorient her Sads and Happys until they all stand upright and aligned, and she will manage to do so, precarious though it all shall be, since the anemic Happy has cultivated its own brand of greed from the plump Sad’s poisonous teethmarks. This emaciated Happy embroiders a throne of capillaries to rest atop the struggling 6 Happys and 2 Sads, crushing them in waves, knowing not to kill them, knowing in the way that we know what we know, knowing to remind them, periodically, of its paradoxical weight. Hunger has made it strangely pragmatic in this way. Ah, the vase. Our confundidos neighbor will come to believe an orca will drop from the sky and crush it. She will think about how, in the process, the orca will crush the flowers in the vase to the perfect flatness for the books she keeps them in. Flowers, by nature, are extremely happy. Flowers are comprised of at least 12 full Happys and 0-2 Sads. The more their ratio favors Happys, the more unsightly their death shall be. The flowers always go in books that already have words in them, as our neighbor prizes petals above words. Petunias and daffodils do a decent job of obscuring. Our neighbor will think about flowers and begin to feel her hungry Happy bubbling up her throat. We expect nothing less than for the orca, with its grand belly flop, to bring down all four walls. Whales care nothing for walls. We will be happy, of course, to bind them back together with needles and with thread. We will be happy to. We will be happy. We will be. We will.
May 8, 2017 § 4 Comments
I thought I’d already put this here, but I cannot find it anywhere on here. But thanks to a renewed interest in tentacles I’ve taken it out of my actual drawing book and contemplated it. Tentative, tentacles, a common etymology: to feel, to try, to test, especially. What in my environment is safe, and what is not? What shall I gather as sustenance? Now for some facts extracted from the internet. Caecilians are amphibians without any limbs, but they do have tentacles, which are sensory organs so perhaps limb-adjacent. There is this giant mythological earthwormlike creature, the minhocão, that ALLEGEDLY exists in the forests of central South America, and it looks like these little serpentlike creatures. Only amplified and perhaps like something out of Dune. Perhaps that’s its shadow at the bottom.
April 30, 2017 § 3 Comments
Lions and cheetahs—spotted hyenas may feast upon their leftovers, but they may very well instead slash up their very own wee lizard or big old antelope and feast upon that. Imagine big spirally horns ground to calcium in a hyena’s guts. But hyena digestion is awfully quick. In less than the time it takes to make a calculated move in a chess game, one hyena can devour a whole gazelle fawn. When the prey is much bigger than themselves, spotted hyenas hunt in packs, led always by a female, biting into their prey, dragging it to the ground, and devouring it alive, bones, horns, hooves and all. Rather than be killed directly, you shall be pursued to the death. If you are a lion, one option is to eat the hyena, but the hyena might eat you first. Your young, anyway. It’s all very complicated. They are similar in some ways. Their diets overlap much. Like lions, the most dominant member of the group gets the biggest portion of the food. They’re furtive and quick, hyenas are, eyes and ears as sharp as their teeth. At nighttime they are boldest of all, perhaps then they’ll even feed right alongside a lion, perhaps even they’ll force the lion right off the kill, teeth bared, big intimidating jaws one and all. Really their social organization bears little resemblance to any other carnivore, really it’s closer to cercopithecine primates (mostly I bring this up because I feel a linguistic thrill from the word ‘cercopithecine’, akin to a slight brain tingle). They are about domination rather than cooperation, but cooperation is necessary due to competition from other predators, they’re together then apart in a fission-fusion society. This intrigues me. If you consult a medieval bestiary, you’ll find hyenas described thusly–“neither male nor female, they are neither faithful nor pagan,” quelle treacherous creature. Oh shit medieval dudes, what’s up? Let’s talk about hyena genitalia!! Females run this shindig. In order to keep up the aggression necessary to hunt in hyena society, alpha females give an androgen boost to their developing cubs. This boost is what causes female reproductive organs to grow, like a lot. On the male you shall spot a rather ho-hum run-of-the-mill penis, but have a look at the female–my, is that also a penis? No it is a seven inch clitoris through which she gives birth. Sometimes she dies this way. It is not an easy task. Hyena mating appears to be rather damned difficult, what with this penis-upon-pseudo-penis action.
I wanted to learn more about hyenas since these thoughts were swirling in me—hyenas are pirates and pirates are lesbians (this was likely a Kathy Acker-inspired thought) and hyenas are feminists? Something or other? How did this thought process begin? What’s this I say? I don’t remember. And I have not yet even got into their zany vocalizations. Oh I do know they emit a kind of soft squeal when encountering a clan-mate after a long separation.