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CLOWN

   "One day, maybe soon. 

   One day I’ll uproot the anchor that keeps my ship far from the seas. 

   With the sort of courage that’s needed to be nothing and nothing but nothing, I’ll let loose what seemed indissolubly close to me. 

   I’ll carve it up, I’ll knock it down, I’ll smash it, I’ll give it a shove. 

   All at once disgorging my miserable modesty, my miserable schemes and “needle and thread” chains. 

   Drained of the abscess of being someone, I’ll drink nourishing space again. 

   Striking with absurdity, with degradation (what is degradation?), by explosion, by void, by a total dissipation-derision-purgation, I’ll oust from myself the form they believed was so well connected, compounded, coordinated, suited to my entourage and to my counterparts, so respectable, my so respectable counterparts. 

   Reduced to a catastrophe’s humility, to a perfect levelling as after a big scare. 

   Dragged down beyond measure from my actual rank, to a low rank that I don’t know what idea-ambition made me abandon. 

   Annihilated in pride, in reputation. 

   Lost in a far off place (or not), without name, without identity. 

   CLOWN, demolishing amidst laughter, amidst grotesqueness, amidst guffaws, the opinion which against all evidence I’d formed of my importance. 

   I’ll dive. 

Without a cent into the underlying infinite-spirit open to everything, 

open myself to a new and unbelievable dew 

by force of being null 

and blank… 

and laughable…"

–Henri Michaux

The Anxiety Caused By Being in Two Minds

“When one has gone on being in two minds for long enough then fickleness (Luke 12:29) takes over the reins. Perhaps it had for a while seemed as if the state of being in two minds still contained the tension that is needed for choosing and therewith the possibility of choosing. That has now been used up (if it was ever there) and the pagan soul has become slack and it becomes clear what that period of indecision really concealed. For as long as one is in two minds, a certain power is still needed to manage one’s thoughts, and while one is trying to make up one’s mind, one is trying to be master of one’s own house by organizing one’s thoughts. But now the reins of office have been taken over by thoughts that know no master but only the impulse of the moment. Impulsiveness is the master now, also in relation to the question of choosing God. At one moment, an impulse moves the pagan to think that it would be best to choose God, but then at another, it is something else, and then some third thing. But these movements—which mean nothing—acquire no meaning and leave no trace, apart from increasing their lethargy and slackness. Imagine a sluggish pool of stagnant water in which a bubble slowly rises to the surface and emptily bursts—that is how the fickle mind bubbles with impulses and then repeats the same thing again. And so when one has gone on being fickle for long enough (which naturally, leaves one drained of blood and enervated, as all ungodly rulers do) disconsolateness takes over the reins of power. Where previously the pagans had wanted to get rid of the idea of God, they now want to sink down into worldly emptiness and try to forget, to forget what is the most dangerous because also the most uplifting of all thoughts—namely, the remembrance of God or that one exists before God. For when one wants to sink down, what is more dangerous than what wants to raise one up? They think that they have now cured their pain, chased all imaginary ideas away and learned to find consolation. Ah! But there it is: it is much as when someone who has sunk very low says by way of comforting himself to someone who reminds him of something higher (oh horrible comfortlessness!), “Let me pass for what I am.” 

The light of spirit is extinguished, a soporific mist clouds the vision, nothing is worth taking an interest in and yet such people don’t want to die but to go on living as what they are. To dissolve in that way is horrific; it is worse than the dissolution undergone in death: it is to rot away while one lives, without even the strength to despair over oneself and one’s condition. The light of the spirit is extinguished and such disconsolate persons become crazily busy about all manner of things as long as nothing reminds them of God. They slave away from morning til night, making money, putting it aside, keeping things moving, and if you talk to them you will hear them constantly saying that this is the serious business of life. Oh frightful seriousness, it would almost be better to lose one’s mind.”

-Kierkegaard, "The Anxiety Caused By Being in Two Minds"

Big Hands sighting on New Yorker blog


Work from Copenhagen

I did some pieces at the COP15 Conference, mostly about the panels, the alternative climate summit, and the protests. This is a little directory: my pieces up on Audubon Magazine, Huffington Post, and N + 1.

Printable PDF of “Unemployment” zine

Printable PDF of Unemployment Zine (9.1 MB)–Print copies available from Microcosm at Microcosm Publishing

PORTLAND POMPEII

 

When the excavators uncover the fantastic ruins and archeological remains, they will gasp at our last poses; our grimacing visage frozen forever like a Polaroid in black molten lava–thin waifish young men crouched under long boards to protect themselves from the fiery onslaught, post-Slacker jaws agape and Christ-like hair pulled straight backwards like a solid wave. We will walk in museum awe beside the preserved and labeled human forms, the androgynous male/female pairs standing in awkward contrappostos holding clay-sculpted medium iced coffees. The Kias, Subarus and Zip cars all scattershot through the street, their drivers facial features reduced to the simplicity of stone golems–two charcoal holes for eyes and a contorted, gaping line for a mouth, a maw-like cave opening in the death masque–a car accident was inevitable, cancer, of course, a bad fall, alright–but who expected this?

The businesses and box store logos are indistinguishable now, the commercial details lost, like in the folds of those sensational and decadent Christo wrappings from a past epoch. The commerce corridors and bland two-story buildings are drawn across the landscape like some dusty unbroken plateau, blank now without the freshness of products and fluorescence, no longer containing within them the certainty of a mutually beneficial interaction between the buyer and the seller. No more cell phone rings or soothing background music, no more "Welcome to Chipotle, what can I get for you?" No more gushing conversations about gluten, soy, and vegan ingredients in the co-op grocery line. Now, just the dusty silence of the dead earth, the sound of shoots of weeds sprouting up after long rains. The Revivalist City Hall looks canonized and dignified, like a chocolate-covered holiday mold of some Roman temple. There’s no more government to run, no more order to keep, no more deficit to close, no more media to wrangle. The faces of the last bureaucrats (not that there were many of them in crunchy, "Keep Portland weird", where suits simply weren't worn) look the most disappointed of all–they had built up the tax base by attracting the mobile, left-leaning white middle-class interested from distant cities with the lure of white picket fences and vegan restaurants. They had put in bicycle lanes and installed gold public water fountains, and made it really easy to get food stamps. They instituted all the modest policy ephemera of the welfare state, but perhaps no one was more disappointed by the end than these policy wonks who thought that human happiness could be achieved by a liberal tweaking of the framework.

All of the urban farming initiatives and afterschool programs, dust. All the water conservation plans and the biodiesel filling stations, the energy efficient refrigerators and automatic shut-off hand dryers and sinks, dust. All the recycling trucks and gyms and healthy organic food, dust. “Rose City” imprisoned forever in black rock and muck like some child's massive LEGO construction that got caught in a house fire–smeared and melted plastic faces, whole record collections, money, useless. The excavators who declare the site archaeologically sensitive will never know our brand names or quite understand what we were looking at inside those thin little boxes with cords coming out on tables that so many of us perished in front of, staring into with blank faces, trapped in cryogenesis.