Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Self As Aphorism

Should I explain who I am in a way that leaves most of me hidden, protecting my precious insecurities and dreams? Or should I share the lucid fullness of the images populating my unconscious mind (and my hesitant, halting deliberations) to give a gift of daring and reckless art, and perhaps create a more inspired collaboration?

I do not read much nor am I well-read now - though I read voraciously in the past, and reading has made me who I am today. Though I am missing many cultural touchstones and I am additionally ignorant in the realm of foreign languages and travel, I spent my childhood reveling in geography; secluded from the world in my backyard. Now I live the other way around, and I take great pains to stay informed.

I seek to explore many areas of human knowledge. In this effort I look to other people and to the Internet. I am constantly assembling intellectual projects. Many of these initiatives are self-serving, meant to increase my compatibility with other people - to secure my understanding of the world - and ease the awkwardness of my interactions. Therefore I am my own bullshit detector. This guides my senses of humor and irony, which are well-used if not well calibrated.

I take many things extremely seriously. But the act of taking something seriously, I put very little weight or faith in. I am a bulldog as light as a snowflake.

I live an existence of transitory and enthusiastic delight, combining the thrill of the moment and the relentless pull of the narrative past. (And I have not escaped from either orbit.)

I am in love with the past and the present, and the future is by far my least favorite tense. I have always been a severe and profound procrastinator. I have always suspected what will happen, because I have never expected it.

My inclinations are extremely deep and thorough, but my methods are entirely superficial (and I feel a great surfeit of guilt in this regard).

I have long struggled to understand subtlety. Now its definition consumes my character: I weigh my actions in levels upon levels. To how many people am I a different person?

Usually I do not mislead because I intend to deceive, but because the complicated truth is usually irrelevant. Truth is not a scale of weight but a scale of vision. (There is a microscope of honesty, and an anatomy of truthfulness.) Very few people bother to learn the most difficult boundaries, or the most obscure bodies of fact to decipher. The truth is more than simply what exists, but truth is written in what you see and do not see - in how you choose to perceive the world - and by how others choose for you.

My truth is not a state of being but a creation. Most people only demand the result of that process. To know truth more intimately is to know how and why that truth was born - to know the passionate fullness of truth in all its banality - and the passionate fullness of deceit. Usually the lies and the truths are equally hidden. Who am I? That is trivial. Why am I? That is the revelation of my spirit.

Poetry Digest: #3

From time to time, I hope to publish a collection of a few of my recent poems. I will refer to this series of posts as my "Poetry Digest". This is Poetry Digest #3.

Delays in Both Directions

If you inhale the spirit through the ribs
Supporting a city's circulation,
Then you feel the breath exit as I feel
With the heaving masses, a crushing weight

Lifting its own chest within these tunnels -
Gasping for air among the Metro stench.
Why we wait so long to repair ourselves -
To ascend, to escalate our greatness --

That's the mystery of Gallery Place.
I am the blood animating the limbs -
A nerve protruding under this body -
A lonely note rising from the wind pipes:

Orchestrating an unknown symphony -
An unpaid musician beneath the streets -
I earn tips from single track siren songs
Passersby play on their way to stardom,

Strutting across a lowly makeshift stage,
Seizing the proper moment and platform.
There is artistry even in one gasp:
Not in the air, but from where it travels.

Upon This Rock

If you are not the story, tell me why
I am listening. I hear boom and bust,
Cataclysm and the great extinctions
Carve our instant in geologic time.

Rising, falling ecosystem empires
Stagger past catastrophic disasters.
Survival is the next imperfection.
I am the latest in this same series.

Know my checkered, fragmented history;
The vulnerability in all life.
I am not an inch in a continent.
I am made in the image of chaos.

Fighting order to avenge indifferent
Does not make our world a product for us.
Listen to scriptures in the sediment:
Our myths are footnotes for another tale.

Cognitive Dissident

I seek shelter from illusions of thought:
Protection from harsh gusts of reflection,
As doubts soaking the ground to germinate
Creep up as intellectual kudzu

Mounting the walls of ideology
Seizing the fortress of my correctness.
No one shall challenge my exactitude!
Therefore, I flee and take up asylum:

Before I ask experts or - how quaint - books,
Today I declare my independence -
I protest empirical observance.
I don't need to know anything at all.

Since reality is a passing fad,
I will triumph in my own history.
What happens is always irrelevant -
What counts is that I'm in control of it.


Against the walls shrouded in silhouettes,
I peer into blue, electric dimness.
A siren square bears the violent angles
Caroming at each other in the dark.

In the urban forest of high black beams,
An army witnesses against the night:
Marching in place, wielding its faint banners -
I sway with the waving shadow trumpets.

This glow is a baton between my hands,
In my imagination's concert hall:
After the stars have stacked their music stands,
Let blackness unpack its song, and play on.


poets never sleep
our dreams are wakefulness
our lives are dreams
we recycle

we recycle
pain beyond words
our dreams are wakefulness
there is pleasure in seeing

there is pleasure in seeing
even in anguish
pain beyond words
yet words are redemption

yet words are redemption
our lives are dreams
even in anguish
poets never sleep

Money for Obama

I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message
do you have any money?
(I ask again)
do you have any money?

do you have any money?
Mitt Romney shouldn't be President
do you have any money?
(words Mitt Romney never says)

(words Mitt Romney never says)
Mitt Romney shouldn't be President
put your country above your money

put your country above your money
(I ask again)
I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message






Keep the Customer Awake

Not sure if philosophy is a meme
Or a profession. I enjoy labels,
So I'll coin a name for my condition:
The one where I cannot stop listening

When I'm tired, when Simon & Garfunkel
Are keeping this customer satisfied
And the lyric is in the description
As the cure is inside the malady

And I'm trapped inside this syllable count
I'm too afraid to write what comes to mind
To spend my time this way before I fret
Searching for an abundance of nothing

My pulse the key of possibility
My words warble although I am tone deaf
Gee but it's great to rely on meter
And sarcasm so I can say nothing

I'm one stead ahead of plagiarism
Two steps behind getting the sleep I need
I'm not even sure why I'm writing this:
I act in ambivalent defiance!

Where I've Been

I quit updating this blog at the same time that I started volunteering with President Obama's grassroots campaign in Alexandria, Virginia. I am proud to tell you that not only was President Obama re-elected, but that we also won Virginia and overwhelmingly won Alexandria.

There are many stories I have wished to relate from this campaign, but I have waited until now to share any. My sense of caution is over-abundant. Nevertheless, it's been an eventual period in my life.

After two lengthy stints campaigning in Alexandria, for the first time I missed the King Street metro stop because I wasn't paying attention and had to double back from Eisenhower Ave.

I was introduced to the show Archer.

Canvassing is more of an art than a science. It's also much easier once the other Fellows from your office start drawing directions on your maps instead of leaving you to determine a walk order by yourself. It can hair-raising to spend 15 minutes trying to decide what direction you should travel with a super anxious volunteer who has never canvassed before. In short, canvassing: don't knock it 'til you've tried it.

Voter registration is at the times the easiest and the most difficult form of campaigning. Most people don't view you as primarily partisan and even Republicans registered with me. While there are a few weird things about completing a voter registration form, it's not that complicated. You stand in one place, generally, and ask people the same thing over and over again. The main challenge, besides burnout, is boredom. There are few things worse in campaigning than standing in the same place for over two hours and failing to register anyone.

There are many signs you can observe that you've grown your aptitude and fondness for campaigning. First of all, if you find yourself actually reading the half dozen e-mails per day you get from the Obama campaign, see a political professional immediately. Second, if you start a campaign enjoying persuasion phone calls because you never talk to anyone, but end a campaign enjoying volunteer recruitment calls because of all the people you hear from, you may actually enjoy your job. (Warning: if your call time lasts longer than four hours, see a field organizer.)

One of the more annoying things about campaigning is that you always have the same conversations every time you meet a new volunteer. The standard chat goes roughly like this:

How'd you start working on the campaign?
How often do you campaign?
What are you doing now other than the campaign?
Oh, where'd you go to college?
What are your future plans?

I remember how tired I was the day before Election Day. On 99.9% of days, I would not have had the energy or the desire to get out of bed in time to make it to the campaign office. For some reason, I popped out of bed that day because my first thought when I woke up was "I might as well try". That attitude, more than anything else, describes what it means to campaign.