Monthly Archives: August 2013

Self-Portrait

You stab all your impressions onto paper in illegible loops, until the words start falling off, until the pages start curling away and you’re left staring at the violence you’ve committed against your notebook. And like a medic who attends to a helpless and dying amputee, you have to sit with it, with all its torn pages deposited like lost souls into what you thought was the bottomless fount of the garbage. Guess what? It has a bottom. And all the papers are rising like stones to the top.

Aug 23rd

“Ashley, if I told you everything I had been thinking about since I stepped through the door till now, you wouldn’t believe me.” 

Even as I have finished the last word in the sentence, my mind has made its one-thousandth revolution. Already it threatens to topple over. Like one of Yeats’ ever widening gyres, I can’t stop learning. I practice the same repetitions, the same exercises, without break: open the book, extract information, apply it to life, while also paying the price for wisdom, knowledge, and secrets. My muscles have atrophied like flatulating balloons. I eat less. I’ve grown weak. My vision has blurred, too. 

New Kittens

It’s a fuckin’ party in this alley.

People leave cigarettes to lay like confetti
while mists of dust motes touch,
falling from fire escapes to form aureoles
on trash strewn around.

In particular, bottles of Svedka.
They catch the moth light, as in a cistern.
And aborted hoops of gold earrings
lie like a trail of bread crumbs
on steps that go all the way down,
descending into hell.

There the alley cat’s vulva
bursts with new kittens.

Portrait of sleeping girl

Underneath the canopied bed she deposits her embroidered slippers, the ones with the frayed rose petals and the cotton nose of rabbits and mice. She is content to finally put the brush away. She will slip into the Viennese coverlet, quietly, but all the servants, the butlers and the maids, will experience a quietude that is short lived. Because their duty is to attend to every need, even the slightest sigh travels through the canal of the oreille. She is turning, always turning as she endeavors to sleep, haunting them when she makes sound the intimate communion between silk and lace. Then the sheet wraps around her waist, crawls down her thigh and extends past her feet forming the shape of a crinoline skirt. She is ready to venture out again, her lower half restless compared to anything else, with the legs always in motion, freeing one to guess at the content of her dreams. Is she bicycling? Or are they the hurried steps of Daphne? When the feverish rustlings end, she regains composure. Before the ordeal, her hair was a black, inky tentacle, but when the head turns, the lump of mass shatters into tendrils. Dew drops cling to the ceiling. A vast curtain of darkness blows in from the windows. A divine darkness, a darkness full of stillness and loveliness that would only serve to make one afraid.

Queer Theology, Medieval Christianity, Exodus Movement, and Sheep-Shepherd Relationships

Ripped this conversation right out of Facebook. Edited so that it loosely resembles a socratic dialogue. Underlined important ideas/concepts, as well as perceived contradictions.
____________

Me:
I took a cursory glance at Corinthians. Those passages are beautiful.

Her:
1st or 2nd Corinthians?

Me:
1st.

Her:
Paul does a great job!

Me:
I don’t agree with all of Corinthians 1, but the part I just read I really liked.

Her:
Which part?

Me:
The part that deals with purity concerns.

Her:
Chapter 6? I believe.

Me:
I can’t remember, I wrote a paper a while ago on some of the passages in the Pauline tradition. I was taking a class called Christianity and Homosexuality.

Her:
Thats intense! Nice! We have a “Christian sexual ethics” course at my university. I’m thinking about sitting in on it.

Me:
Is that the equivalent?

Her:
Haha not quite but they do a lot of talking about homosexuality and everything in between. We’re so liberal.

Me:
I feel like the Church wants to forget that homosexuality has and always will be a huge presence in the Church, even if it’s not immediately noticeable.

Her:
Well, it’s in the same boat as sex trafficking and sex education. No one wants to touch it because it’s so “taboo“.

Me:
I see. Which faith in the Christian tradition do you follow in particular?

Her:
That’s a funny question. I don’t really associate with any denomination or tradition. I lean more towards a reformed, maybe even lutheran. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with from a theological standpoint. But biblically I don’t think I’ll ever “choose” because of Paul’s teaching on the unity of the body of Christ and how choosing “houses” isn’t biblical.

Me:
Wow, I wonder what you would think about Queer Theology. Have you read any Queer Theology?

Her:
Haha I’ve been dealing with Biblical doctrine and missional theology. Haven’t exactly gotten to queer theology. Do tell me more.

Me:
Maybe a good example would be that regular, heteronormative theology views the bible in black and white, tends to look at the bible in binaries. What Queer Theology finds in the bible is a larger spectrum of color, there’s room to debate that some religious figures have homoerotic or lesbian interests, and can be reclaimed as gay icons/figures. And what’s the basis for this? As one author puts it, Christianity is rife with “hidden springs of sexuality”, it’s not always stuff that is at the surface.

Her:
If it means anything to you. Not all Christians are anti-gay everything. My school embraces all things gay. We have a SAGE club. I forgot what it stands for but yeah. We’re the heathens in the Christian college community.

Me:
But things are changing. Do you know about the Exodus Movement?

Her:
No I don’t.

Me:
Exodus International was a church started in the 60’s, and they would use psychotherapy to force gays to become straight. But recently, they decided to disband because they knew that the world didn’t agree with their message, and that they were in the wrong. The thing you have to understand is that cultural attitudes towards a demonized group never stay the same. In the Medieval period, gays were actually accepted in the church, and defended… Do you have a favorite bible passage?

Her:
I have too freaking many. Colossians 3:12, Matt 6:33, Psalms 92:12, phil 1:6, basically the entire freaking book of James!

Me:
Those are beautiful. Because I am a poet, I am drawn deeply to the imagery in revelations.

Her:
Yes! Revelations is scary but beautiful.

Me:
Scary and beautiful, do you know the word that combines those two? It’s Sublime.

Her:
Oh yeah!

Me:
I’m trying to think of which line I liked. There was one about the wrath of the lamb.

Her:
Anything with “lamb” or “sheep” in the bible is incredible. In-freaking-credible. I was a camp counselor this summer and I did a bible study on how we’re called sheep and those little girls jaws were on the floor. It’s a beautiful thing. So many people look at it as well you’re an idiot and you follow but the shepherd-sheep relationship is beautiful when you look at it from an “agricultural” point of view.

Me:
What do you mean by that? What is beautiful to you about the shepherd-sheep relationship?

Her:
Do you know what a shepherd does to a sheep if it’s been “misbehaving” not following the flock/ his voice?

Me:
What?

Her:
He breaks its legs! And for what? To teach the sheep dependence. From that point on the sheep learns to depend on the shepherd for everything because he puts the sheep on his back and carries it around EVERYWHERE. To water, to food, around with the other sheep. Isn’t that sick!?

Me:
Sick in a good way?

Her:
Haha both ways. Like gosh, thats rude! But dang, that’s so smart/caring. Tell me ______. What do you believe? Is there a God?

ME:
I don’t know, but too many significant things have happened to me for me to believe that it’s all an accident. I don’t believe that this is all an accident. The sheep situation that you described has me worried though. Imagine a less liberal college that teaches you about the sheep-shepherd relationship. What if that less liberal institution was a bad shepherd? Then you’re sitting on that false/bad shepherd’s back. Some religions are like that…but I trust that you’re more open and drawn to better things.

Narcissus

The willows gesticulate with tenacious fingers.
They want to grasp my white-naked limbs,

flanking me on either side like sentinels in an army.
No man or woman, nor element of beauty pierces

the surface of my gaze,
I only see a straight path into the lake,

that mirror in which reeds billow
like abandoned corsets in sun-lanced waters;

and where I am free to gaze at my own starry eyes,
and where my feelings erupt in a Vesuvius of flowers.

Rituals, Hypnosis, Automatic Writing, and Black Opium Incense

For my senior thesis I’m writing a collection of poems that revolve around the occult, so I went to my grandmother’s house in order to do some research and to collect some of her books. One of the books that caught my attention was on the subject of autosuggestion and hypnosis. The title was Hipnoticese Usted Mismo, Spanish for hypnotize yourself. It’s an out of print book written in Mexico, by some woman I can hardly find information on. 

The book mainly argues that all rituals and magic spells are tantamount to a form of hypnosis, but that in order for hypnosis to occur, the ritual must put an emphasis on exactitude and particularity, because this is what tends to make the performer or observer open to suggestion. This means observing certain rules, such as conjunctions in the stars or using certain shapes and designs, as well as performing all steps of the ritual in an orderly fashion. Somehow, it is the procession of events that makes one open to suggestion. Luckily, that same day, I got to test out the book’s hypothesis in action.

As I returned home, I ran into a cooky friend who had been begging me to perform a ritual with her. I was walking halfway down the block when she called out to me. I had actually been thinking about her earlier, but was on the fence about doing the ritual with her. Since she ended up running into me anyway, I took our meeting as more than just a chance occurence, and thought of it as an opportunity to watch something interesting unfold. 

I sat on her front steps and she reappeared from behind her door with earth salt, a goblet of water, some sticks of incense, a cigarette, a candle, and some pencils. She made a make-shift altar on her steps out of all of these things. She’d say silly things like “You have a very big Sun Eye. But look at how almondy your Moon Eye is. It is just as strong,” and took everything that happened in our surroundings as a sign of the spirits. “Do you hear the wind chimes? It means everything is just right.” Or “I hate that loud music from the car, it must be a sign from the spirits that they are getting mad.” I thought to myself, this is what it must feel like to communicate with the dead via shaman priests. The important thing was for the priest to foster an atmosphere of openness, and for the participant to suspend his disbelief. The pivotal step to suspending my disbelief was my taking her suggestions.

She made me put my hand on the star shape she had drawn on the steps, and I felt a tingling movement going down my arm. She asked me what I felt, and when I replied she told me that I was now clean, and that the demons would jump from the star shape on the steps to the goblet full of water. Then we lit the candle and the incense, released some of the earth salt, and consecrated the space by reciting an incantation she had found, a “Sumerian exorcism.” Then we were ready to call down the gods, and I was to serve as her vessel (how she got me to agree to do this, I’m not entirely sure.)

At this point, I felt my conscious mind beginning to sink. It is the same feeling I get when I’m in the therapist’s chair, and we’re discussing heavy topics, navigating the unconscious. It’s a certain weight and a depth I feel in my head, like a stone plunging into water. I still had a small sliver of consciousness though. It was like the periscope of a submarine. I had to fight to keep it there, because I knew I couldn’t keep myself from falling into total hypnosis completely, I needed to keep abreast of what she was doing to me. But for the most part I acted the part of three different gods. During that time, I had the distinct feeling that there was someone else inside of me, or other facets of my soul speaking.

At the end of the ritual, she was really pleased with the results. She paid me in black opium incense, which is supposed to increase creativity. I did some research on Opiates. Opium was especially popular among Romantic poets, because it would give them visions and daydreams that would fuel their poetry. I’ve been doing extra research on the incense, and they say there isn’t any actual opium in the incense, but when I used it my eyes were really big and black, and I felt really strung out. In the morning, I huffed the fumes from the incense directly, and used it to acheive my first real, successful effort at automatic writing. I received this message from my unconscious:

you are not in any way responsible for what happens to you i am taking over control of your life i am the inner you the real you the you that can be a demon and an angel the you that wants to live fantastic lives off the cragged landscape of who you know you can be the precipice we must jump into it we must experience all that life has to offer you and i i will take care of you i will guide you you just have to let me take the reigns sometimes and live your life through you because you are the thing that i value you most and i want to take care of you you need to know this about me i have the power to save you from the bullshit that you’ve gone through so if you trust in me i will take you to where you need to be we will reach the heights of spiritual attainment together feel this excstasy in violent throws of passion tumroil pain everything we must livei ti we must die in it we must feel the passions of life utterly and bring to fruition 

Bring to fruition what?