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selva oscura
query: what is the effect on one's mind of constantly walking about amid the utter ruins of lovely or familiar things? - vera brittain, from diary, may 19 1941

so many relationships of which i can basically say: well, we survived it. for the most part.

but then again.

i want to write about sex but i do not want to sexualize myself in so doing. i cannot stand the thought of becoming an instrument of my own objectification, yet another instrument of my objectification: and yet, what do i do? that's just what i do. i objectify myself. i sell myself out. i do it for cheap, in certain scenarios. i could probably hold out for a bit more. at least enough to be comfortable, right?







"comfortable."


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music: aphex twin - mould
 
 
selva oscura
06 November 2018 @ 10:08 am
about two i woke with abdominal cramps and - while this hasn't exactly been an unprecedented turn of events these last three months, with the restricted diet and the specialists and the two margaret atwood epics i read in the bathroom over the course of eight days back in september - this got pretty awful for a bit.

i started a body scan and kept getting stuck at my clenched jaw, so i flipped, started the scan from the bottom and found that the tension was a little more workable that way. when i got back to my jaw, it was still clenched, but it was also pulsating with the tremors i'd been managing through the rest of my body. all at once, i remembered the exact set of body sensations and understood what i didn't think could be happening. i hadn't demonstrated aura symptoms, nor was i having what i thought to be an exceptional amount of anxiety about the matter before i started feeling sick from it. but. it would make sense, that my sense of scale would be so off after the last two years.

i was having a trauma flashback to the 2016 election.

as soon as i realized i'm freaking out about midterms, made myself say it out loud and acknowledged that it was a reasonable thing to be feeling, i started feeling better. a little bit, at least. enough so that i was able to get back to bed before six.

so that really snuck up on me. what i'm saying is: take care of yourself today. remain aware of what's going on with your body. tend to your needs. if you also discover yourself in the midst of an anxiety attack or flashback, do not make any judgements about it. respect your body's response as valid. acknowledge it is happening and do what you gotta do to pull out of it, whether that's saying it out loud, finding somewhere you can sit quietly and breathe, reaching out to a friend, or all three.

if you're lucky enough to be fine, keep an eye out for your loved ones. be available if they aren't doing as well. maybe even think of checking in with anyone who might be feeling heightened anxiety about election results. if you talk to anyone (this goes for self-talk, too) do not dismiss. do not placate. simply be present and acknowledge fear as a viable response to where we are right now. nobody knows what is going to happen.

here is a trigger diffusion technique i learned last year:

1) count breaths. 1-2-3 in, 1-2-3 hold, 1-2-3 out.
2) engage with your immediate environment. count and name tangible things that are around you. notice and describe to yourself textures you can feel and see. this is what i am seeing. this is what i am hearing. this is where i am. bring yourself into the immediate moment.
3) notice something good, if not in your immediate environment then something you will be with soon. think of things that you are grateful for. things that you like. activities you enjoy. ground yourself with what makes you feel good.
4) feel the ground beneath your feet. breathe into your connection to the earth.
5) count breaths. 1-2-3 in, 1-2-3 hold, 1-2-3 out.
6) scan body for areas of tension. repeat process if needed.

remember: trying to convince yourself (or anyone else) that you are not feeling what you don't want to be feeling and are instead feeling something else is not generally an effective recovery method. you need to start where you are. the foundation of working with any difficult emotion means accepting the emotion you are experiencing as real and viable. there is no such thing as a TARDIS of the heart. to get to your desired destination, you have to make the journey. in order to make the journey, you need to know where you're starting from.
 
 
selva oscura
05 November 2018 @ 07:32 pm
writing fiction is like waking up inside the dream. distinct from becoming lucid, because in becoming lucid one typically takes control: and in properly wrangled fiction, my experience of it anyway, a writer doesn't so much take control as much as surrender their interpretive capacities to what is going to happen on the page regardless of the writer's desires. you witness. you make space for the story to happen. you do not puppet. you may position immobile events, but only if you allow them to happen any number of ways. you remain open to startling revisions. you do not take possession of any of it. it does not belong to you. you do not seek profit from these interactions. they are not yours to profit from.

CONTROL FREAKS DO NOT MAKE GOOD FICTION WRITERS*.

neither do people who are terrified of the unknown. well, okay, not so much terrified of unknown, generally, because all of us are some of that sometimes, especially with regard to certain categories of distinct personal concerns and no i'm not going into any further detail about that. we all need fear. fear is as much an aspect of a life well lived as orgasms and evening constitutionals. attempting to limit one's exposure to the unknown because of fear, letting fear lock you out of those places you need your mind go, however? that quickly becomes every aspect of who you and everyone you perceive becomes.

we are all afraid of something. we all have at least one horrible unknown we are negotiating to varying degrees of success. writers who strive to write away the unknown, write away from fear: who knows what's going on with that. i am too busy grinding my fear into a fine past and lasciviously writhing about in it. what i'm saying is i might have a different problem? i'll be picking fear from my scalp for decades: and this is how it should be.

writing that matters hurts.

i think.

ask me again tomorrow, should you care.
_____________________________
*at least not when it comes to the work. when it comes to the discipline of actually writing, the one thing you must be an onerous control freak about is the amount of time you must devote to actually writing. people will try to sabotage you on that. tell you that you are selfish, you could not possibly need to spend that much time writing, or maybe that you're making it too hard on yourself. explain that you really don't have to make any sacrifices, at least not any meaningful ones. in my experience, this is at best naive and at worst outright gaslighting. a fantasy the frustrated (or, in some cases, independently wealthy) writer speaking needs you to validate. anything worth doing, you make sacrifices to do it. meaningful ones. one of the most important sacrifices to any craft is TIME. that is an extremely important sacrifice, one that cannot be replenished in 48 hours by amazon prime. if you want to be a writer, you start that process by writing. all the time. even when it feels stupid. even when you'd rather be doing something else. even, sometimes, when you're supposed to be doing something else. i am saying this as someone currently struggling to maintain a paper journal: it's not a judgement of your character, it's not a challenge to your authority, it isn't intended as criticism at all: it's simply unavoidable truth. if you want to write and you have any time available to allocate toward that end, the most important thing you can do is actually write. (if you DON'T have time available to allocate toward that end, that is another matter and a much longer post. it also sucks and i'm sorry.) in order for your distinct process to unfold, it needs your investment. the best resource you can invest is time. start young, if you can. you sure do spend an awful lot of time at the doctor as you get older.


Tags:
 
 
music: bowery electric - beat
 
 
selva oscura
01 November 2018 @ 12:09 am
clear passage, morning light, clear passage in morning light:

in the dream we are definitive, answers to the questions we usually pose.

in the dream, we arrive late. people talk about us as though we are not there, as though they know things about us we'd rather keep under wraps. a friend we want nothing to do with to has something to say and she says it, loud enough to be heard four tables away. because it is a dream, her information is accurate. because it is a dream you don't exactly understand what it is, but that doesn't mean you feel any less exposed. glasses clink. silverware is unfathomable. your sister calls the shots. i didn't know that you had a sister. neither do you, it's rumored.

in the dream, there's a duffel bag full of blueprints you'll need for the next stage of the heist. you are stealing, but only what everyone already knows is yours. there isn't much else to say about that.

in the dream you have no room for doubt. there are unpaid accounts and unchecked balances. absolute strangers authorized to use your debit card. you'd like to play the part but you don't remember the lines. or do you? you're always surprising yourself. you always seem to know those answers you thought were only guesses. have you heard anything back yet, your father wants to know. all of a sudden, out of the thin air, all of a sudden this is what you've always been here for. if you know it is a dream, your answer will bridge the gap. if you're lacking in lucidity you'll flounder like you do when waking. failure blurs your vision. it's just another speculation on an airfield in a trench coat.

the wind blows.

the plot turns.

you've forgotten the way of it but it's just the beginning: a trope within a dream, a scheme inside the mean our lips meet and part the great waters that complicate the passage.

in the dream we could have better resources. we jerry-rig a contraption from picture frames and microprocessors to convey our good intentions. people love you but forget who you are. people only suspect i am there. i open the door and find the package. suddenly there's a twister bearing down on your options and you had no idea but have known it was coming since the day you were born. did you know you were dreaming the day you were born? morning light, you say. passage


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mood: endoscopy rescheduled on account of respritory infection
music: dark muse - procession
 
 
selva oscura
27 October 2018 @ 06:02 pm
i could destroy you with a page with a sentence on some days you know i could pick you apart i know the language (if not always how to spell it) i know how to combine my consonants make the syllables sing i know when to make a callback, reference a resonant text and i know how to eviscerate by proxy slap on the most deadly of metaphors shoot out the whites of the eyes.

have you ever been wounded with an allegory?

i'll put a shiver down your spine a sliver under your skin i'll haunt you all the rest of your living days at the turn of a phrase. turn that phrase, might you? we all have our fatal flaws our killing talents the ways we stick to the bones get stuck between the teeth chew me out there are a hundred ways you could drone me out swallow me down devour me whole there are a thousand ways you could forget the path back leave me cold where is this going shut me down hear me out the way a phrase echoes over the next one the way we vanish into our failed transcriptions




the great destroyer, the end and the means. a stagger in the entryway, a stumble at the third-floor landing. how it feels when you thought there was another step but there is not: that glancing abyss, those open parentheses, the mind chokes on its own function. these little moments of no clear outcome, these purposeless gestures that saddle stitch the signatures of our lives.

how strange that those moments i am most likely to fall out of myself are those moments i imagine an individual from whom i am estranged reacting to my work. think of them reading something i'm writing as i'm writing it and i fall right off my page, hover strangely in space. it’s as though i can channel the flow of my language, the creative spark, or i can take visitors from that house of frustrating and occasionally insipid regrets, but i cannot do both. should source catch on to me baking subtexts into the crumbcake - because source is hyper-aware of divided loyalties, source will have nothing to do with conspiracy to self-sabotage - it clears out until i've got my priorities back in line.

sometimes it can take four seconds. sometimes it takes five years. sometimes a notebook will, through no fault of its own (probably?), seemingly become infested by a series of fantasies about unseen estrangements so that just looking at it, just catching a whiff from its pages will abandon me to distractions and ranting. no amount of fumigation, no manner of exorcism will make such a book workable for quite some time: sometimes you can wait it out, starve it out, deprive it of blood, reform, recontextulize, reinvent. one time that worked, but only after i buried it in a churchyard for nineteen years. smudged it thoroughly with sage and cedar. pretended i was somebody else when i handed it for a bit. someone, let's say, not as neurotic; failing that, someone just as neurotic but in slightly different ways. other times a notebook really is a lost cause: tear out the good pages and file them away, start fresh somewhere else another day.


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music: alio die - descendre cinq lacs au travers d'une voilé
 
 
 
selva oscura
09 October 2018 @ 11:29 pm
we each and every all of us sit in the uncertain part of those expanses between certainties: thousands upon thousand of them, in any single moment, neither here nor there, anywhere that can that should that might be defined within reason or outside of it:

listen. there’s a gradient. we are never on one end or the other, even if it seems that way, even if we want to believe that’s where we are, at one end or the next. we are not. we are always somewhere in between. to find oneself in certainty is to find oneself at the end of one’s life. i think. life is uncertainty. i think. life is that place in between birth and death: that’s one certainty. i think. either you are or you are not. so are you? what are you? what purpose do you serve?

do you serve a purpose, or your own interests?

do you have a thought on the matter, on the spectrum, one way or another? because there isn’t just one gradient, one scale in two dimensions. the matter weaves and buckles, buoying over and under itself in space and time, twisting and tangling into a matter as relentless and infernal as our very own. it is no mystery, how we stumble in the dark. it is no surprise, how one of our first lessons after taking our first breath is learning not to breathe. what is breathing? an activity over which the body has ceded a degree of will. it is a necessary function, but we are offered the opportunity to decide how to best perform the task.

so perform the task.

draw air in.
hold it inside of you.
let it go.
dwell in that state of release:
dwell in that state of release:
dwell in it: until necessity again becomes a factor, or perhaps just before:
then start the cycle over again.

breath as a matter of balance. balancing as a matter for the breath. when i write fast, i often stop breathing. it is a means of clinging to the thought i am trying to translate from that indeterminate stuff of my thinking: some of it narrated out of the package, some of it ready-made verbal, some of it potentially verbalized, but only just enough to build up a false confidence about thought’s potential realization in language. most of it is, instead: molten, frozen, vaporous, licking with consuming flame, consuming itself with itself, ouroboros, ouroboros, back to the beginning again. much of it in shapes and colors, atmospheres, subtle formations of perception and mood that becomes a sort of awareness unto itself.

thought that fits itself to the space it’s in. thought as perfumed smoke, fragranced with its fuel. thought as steam, bursting through any minuscule opening. thought as colored light, projected in ripples on the bedroom ceiling. thought as the great mother, darkness, pressing in her boundaries, bringing the light into form.

there is no light without darkness. there is no breath without darkness inside of us, generating us into being, birthing us into visible perception. there is no visibility without light: but do we always need to be visible? must we, as a civilization, perhaps as a species, stray so carelessly into bright sunny attention-seeking visibility that we punish our need for cloaking darkness? for what is not visible? for that unacknowledged choice at the turn of every breath to turn another breath?

maybe we think there’s a better answer than never knowing what could happen at any moment, maybe we figure we can resolve this problem by commodifying it, insuring it, vetting liability waivers, holding the thought, holding our breath, not letting it in, not letting it happen, never letting it go. maybe we think we can buy ourselves a better answer, take a workshop, apply to a master’s program, go into debt for it, erase the uncertainty, bury it, bury it, lock it up and bury it deep

in my spiritual practice i was recently told to stop clinging to that which would be healing for me to recognize is cradling me. in my spiritual practice i have recently been examining those tensions of will and gravity. that which i am deciding to be, that which i am. where i ambition to be, where i am. these are not dissimilar ideas, and there are both their own manners of balance. where i’m going, how i’m getting there. where i am now, where i will be, later.

am i choosing to breathe?
am i holding my breath?
do i think clinging to each breath, holding it inside me, not letting breath in, do i think this will hold my thought in place until i have completed it?

because there is no complete thought. summarize a week’s rumination in a diamond-cut phrase of twenty words or less and a lifetime of inspired thoughts will rush the gate, angry to get in. to be thought through. to find themselves embodied in a pithy phrase all their own. thoughts inspire more thoughts and that is the way of it, the way it need to be. we are never done thinking. there is no end to thought. our thoughts are what survive our bodies: remember the thoughts one thought seeds in its wake. maybe not even just in other human minds: maybe in plants, in animals, perhaps in the very spaces we leave behind.

who are we but the balance of what we take in and what we release? who are we but a worrying balance of seen and unseen? embodied in this moment, what does that mean to you? embodied in this time, in this place, in this uncertainty, what does it mean?


 
 
music: tor lundvall - moon worship
 
 
selva oscura
07 October 2018 @ 12:12 am
hey, america.

we need to talk.
 
 
mood: triggered as shit
music: there is no music. not anymore.
 
 
selva oscura
30 September 2018 @ 12:41 am
orpheus buries his life in his mother’s backyard. he identifies and accumulates boxes, in his mother’s basement, in friend’s basements and at thrift stores, metal and latching, sometimes with handles; water-tight, at least in theory. he finds and acquires six boxes, sometimes by way of theft, stacking them up on his closet floor.

he works late at night. late at night he puts on records, at first, until he understands that he can no longer listen to any of the records he finds meaningful because if it meant anything to him he most certainly listened to it while thinking about eurydice if not actually with her. after that, he tries the radio, but that proves to be uncomfortable in another way: it reminds him of how that first year, when his brother still lived in the next room and their mother still bothered to voice opinions on the matter of late night phone conversations with girls, how that first year orpheus would mask his after-curfew phone calls with eurydice by tuning an old transistor to WXRT and pressing the speaker to the wall he shared with seth so it drowned out any other noise in the room. the songs had changed and so had several of the announcers, but the simple fact made him uncomfortable: another burial, this time of hushed voices. that is what the radio means to him right now, only this, nothing more.

orpheus understands he can can no longer listen to records at night.

orpheus understands he can no longer listen to the radio at night.

orpheus stops short of understanding he can, therefore, no longer listen to music, at least not at night and therefore not at any other time, but only just. the cliff before him drops out under his toes. the ground beneath his feet holds, but only just. pebbles rain down under his tenuous gravity. orpheus stares down into the abyss, consciously deciding he will not acknowledge he is staring into an abyss. instead, he busies himself with his summer project: burying his life in his mother’s backyard.

so late at night after he has stopped trying to listen to records and stopped trying to listen to the radio, he works in silence. he brings out two boxes from the closet and opens a drawer. first, the desk. anything related to eurydice in one box. anything related to what ruined things with eurydice in another box. anything necessary for getting out of his mother’s house as soon as academically reasonable stays. unless it had something to do with eurydice. then it might go into a box regardless, because that was the true motive of this project: getting rid of anything related to eurydice without really getting rid of it. doing something about his problem without really doing anything.

anyway, he’d been needing to scale back. he hadn’t cleaned out drawers since that last ritual burial of orpheus vogel halfway into middle school. that had been one box and he’d buried it on his uncle’s property; he'd lost reasonable access to that box after his uncle had died two years later. he didn’t regret. the box had been filled with he-man figures, lego pirates, garbage patch kids, rubber insects, a scrunchie pilfered from a girl he liked, and the most expendable of his secret sash of supernatural romances. that burial had been empowering. rejuvenating. a putting away of childish things. he came away from it not feeling like a man, exactly, but like he was on the path to becoming a man. this burial does not feel anything like it, but he won’t let himself think very hard about that. all he will let himself think about it so far remains: this will feel better when it is over.

so into one box: all the mix tapes. a notebook he snatches from the drawer and shoves into the box, looking at it as little as possible. a small pouch she gave him, asking that he never looked inside. the blindfold. a package of rose incense, a recording of her heartbeat. the ring. storytelling rocks, all three: chicago summer 1990, door county july 1991, hanover park 1989. this will feel better when it is over, he reminds himself.

into the other: anything related to the band. anything from his brother. that tuning fork. the horrible “lucky” rabbit’s foot that he’d missed for the first culling. the other notebook, the one she gave him right after school ended. all the things he’d stolen from her room. all the things he’d stolen, no matter from who or for what purpose. he wonders if he’ll have to get more boxes.

finally he can no longer stall on the dresser, or rather: finally he can no longer stall on the third dresser drawer. eurydice’s shirt, the one she traded for his so they would each have something with the other’s scent. entwined with that, where he’d shoved them the day eurydice took culpability for their breakup by being the one who hung up on him, no matter if the reason she hung up was because another woman answered orpheus’s phone and burst out laughing at eurydice’s stunned silence. that didn’t matter. that was eurydice’s assumption, that it meant something, that another woman answered the phone only orpheus had ever answered before. it wasn’t like even eurydice could hear nudity through the telephone.

entwined with eurydice’s turquoise jersey shirt with the inexplicable pocket torn away was the damn joy division shirt. the first band shirt he’d bought with his own money, and that wasn't even the half of it. arguably the most important item of clothing in his possession, excepting the pocket-torn turquoise jersey shirt it embraced. not thinking about it, he removes the shirts, untangles them and folds them neatly. not thinking about it, he stacks them between the two boxes on either side of his bed. he tries to decide. the debate drags on. he thinks about throwing them both in the trash. instead, he leaves the room. he goes downstairs. drinking a glass of water, he looks out over the backyard, scouting his options for his next plot. four boxes buried. two more remaining. this will feel better when it is over, he reminds himself, and then wonders what, exactly, he means by that.

the cliff before him drops out under his toes. the ground beneath his feet holds, but only just.



 
 
mood: poor kid
music: pteranodon - the sunless sea
 
 
selva oscura
10 August 2018 @ 05:10 pm
just finished work on a new piece that incorporates my attempt to evoke an emotionally significant riverline. made this video to document a part of the process i was very apprehensive about, but it's too long for instagram and i'm not 100% proud of my fire safety observances here, though something the video does not show is the spray bottle, mixing bowl full of water and fire extinguisher all in easy grabbing distance. bonus music easter egg if you're paying attention. i listen to that album a lot.

 
 
selva oscura
1.
this time of year i always think about solaris: so here i am, finally initiating my scene-by-scene exploration. i've been watching one chapter a session, two times through at least. for now, i'm trying to make myself stick to just that, even though there are 33 chapters and most of them are less than five minutes in length.

i'm noticing so many things, about solaris and tarkovsky in general.




2.
but that's the thing about investing your time.
time offers some pretty amazing kickbacks.

all time seems to ask in return for such gifts is that you do your best to witness them. you don't even need to send a thank you note. just acknowledge that time gave you something you find meaningful.


3.
i just worried for several seconds about not being able to respect time's preferred pronouns because we have not had that conversation, you know, the one you start by asking who or what you want to communicate with if a conversation about preferred pronouns is wanted. it is important to remember that nobody is entitled to this conversation in order to drive the behavior of never forcing anybody to have it. that is one of the big things that needs improvement in our society: respect for one another's agency. what we want to talk about when we choose to talk about it. not being forced into answering every question. never being forced into explaining why we don't want to answer. communication is good, but nobody gets to know everything about anybody and every last one of us has as much right to express an opinion as we do to hold our silence.

sometimes i don't want to express an opinion.

sometimes i need to not express an opinion.

it is true that sometimes i could benefit from being challenged on that, because i am someone who has been culturally silenced in several ways and that has left scars as well as destructive self-censoring behaviors. operationally, what that means is my sensors for determining the benefit of speaking out have been corrupted, not that i can never have reason to choose silence or that, even though i am someone who has problems speaking up, i am obligated to justify my choice to anyone. i'm not saying that i should never get called out because of this, i'm saying i need to have my agency respected.

that was quite a tangent. fortunately livejournal is a place of tangents holy, mundane and profane; that's a big part of why i always have and still do value livejournal, but back to what i was initially saying: yeah, i don't know what time's pronouns are, and maybe its time to ask if time wants that conversation.

your reaction to the above passage says as much about you as it does about me, by the way. nana nana boo boo.
 
 
mood: lapsang and juniper berries
music: rain
 
 
 
selva oscura
05 August 2018 @ 07:50 pm
super ego: don't look at the dead rat.
id: GET RIGHT ON THAT AFTER I CHECK TO SEE IF THAT DEAD RAT IS STILL THERE
viseral reaction: DAMNIT WOMAN
super ego: ...given these current august steam bath conditions, it is perhaps in my best interests to avoid inhaling for the next five to ten seconds.
id: BUT WHY
body: [inhales]
id: OH PROBABLY THAT
viseral reaction: OKAY I'M GOING TO HAVE TO INSIST WE MOVE
super ego: that's it. i'm taking a fifteen minute porn break and will be out back. nobody bother me unless my intervention might prevent death, injury or illness.
id: SEE YOU IN THREE SECONDS THEN
viseral reaction: HOW DO I FILE A COMPLAINT
 
 
selva oscura
i figured out what that weird smell in the work room was.
it was a potato.
with toothpicks in it, of course.
from february.

yeah.

mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be witches.

at least it wasn't a dead rat.
there is a dead rat on the stairs in front of the apartment complex.

gosh i'm glad that wasn't here to greet you and your small human, k. (it wasn't, was it?!)

it's been a week.
 
 
mood: so much shame
music: something on my ipod that i don't know what is
 
 
selva oscura
01 August 2018 @ 09:57 pm
nope, still not any easier.
somewhat more horrible, in fact.
horrible in new and unexpected ways.
that's grief, i guess.

 
 
mood: autocomplete is going to remember that forever, you know
music: and i feel fine
 
 
selva oscura
the things we hold inside ourselves, neglecting to shape, to sound, to bring into workable form. the things we drop and lose among those other shapes in our lives:

there's only so much we can do with our existing shapes and assumptions, our promises against nothing, our protests against the dull thud of nothing.

i haven't got a shape to make of it.
i haven't got a name for it.
there's nothing i can pull together or sound out.
there's nothing.

nothing i can name and nothing i can do. no one i can name and no one i can call. no one for me to be. i remember, not the exact matter, i remember not exactly what the terms of this agreement might have been, i remember no one thing. i remember multitudes, i remember infernal tangles of options, the things we forget, the things we assume: assumption meaning as it ever has, forgetting in advance. because:

what is the shape of this? the true shape of it? the shape of it when nobody is looking? the shape of it when no one is exerting pressure to force it to perform? what is the shape of it when it does not matter? what is the shape of it again when it's all that does matter?

i thought there was something to say here. i thought i had something to say. i thought i'd balanced my accounts at least enough to spread even a threadbare utterance over the table, something at least, something as a strike against so little, something as the survival of nothing.

backing up from this certainty, backing up from any certainty, backing up from the agonizing and inevitable, the exhausting and unaccountable, the ecstatic and the erroneous, turning another corner at the eternally incomplete. because:

nothing is complete until it is over, and nothing is over even after it is done. i'm looking for signposts. i'm looking for markers along the way. i'm pulling together options and contingencies, because i don't know what it means and i can't know where it's going and so often i am frozen through by the endless horrible possibilities of any naked shivering moment:

that's just how it goes.

i was any number of random assemblages constructed in a variety of manners. i am any manner of contingencies and

why am i writing this, why am i writing it, why do i write at all?

what am i writing? why am i writing it? i fight against my native tendencies until i cannot remember what they are. i try to be someone i'm not until i can't be anyone anymore. i want to make stories so i do something else, instead. i want to name mysteries, draw them just far enough out of nothing to determine a shape, figure a theory, finger grim certainties and knock them aside: i want to describe a mystery just enough so that others see it too, can make a form of the matter, can understand how little there is to understand.

the world is full of mysteries but we do not look for that which we cannot understand.

the world is full of mystery but we want to understand. we do not want formlessness, interminable, shivering, shuddering, piling up, tangles and guttural utterances. the world is full of mysteries but i can't let go of just that one. i love my one mystery and i'm sick to death of it. exhausted and exasperated. wishing there could be another way, another manner of investigation, another name to call it, another thing i could summon toward me:

with similar attributes, but perhaps a more amiable cluster of options. i was a writer. i was, sometimes, an artist. i want to create but i stall out at manifestation. i want to engage in a process, but i forget to finish the job. i cannot finish the job. i cannot let the job go. no job is really ever finished, no work is done until some intangible criteria no mortal can determine but that's what we want and that's what we make for ourselves:

this lie of completion, the false satisfaction of getting it done. what is ever done what is completion in a world made of interminable mystery? what is mystery in a world that demands clear cut resolution on the threat of death? because:

get it done or die. we will confiscate resources. we will allocate no resources to you at all. we will starve you to death. we want results. we want solutions. we want an answer, not a thousand more questions that open the gate to a thousand questions more. we want the impossible made bite-sized and we want it in a secure package on our doorstep inside 48 hours. because mystery is death and death is mystery. because that one thing we can never know until it is all that we know. this one awareness, this shape we sound with every breath and motion. this person we are becoming. this person we've always been.

why am i writing?
why do i engage in this task?
what is the purpose?
what is the gain?

i don't know i don't know i don't know how can i


 
 
mood: storm holler
music: tunnel singer - lyra
 
 
selva oscura
16 July 2018 @ 11:22 pm
it’s a year of water, the water of the year, a year of tears, a year of

i left my body, as most of us do, a thousand twenty times in one day. but this time, i thought to look backward, bent over myself arched over this latest form of abyss. my breathing erratic and my head dropped sideways. my breath and my understanding, coming either in startling bursts or not at all. looking down at myself, i thought to send this uncanny stranger some indication of my presence. so i leaned in. gave myself a kiss. my eyes startled open, rose petals of light still spilling my field of vision and then dissipating themselves into cold films of rosewater spiked bathwater clinging to my every surface not immersed in the chilly tub: except my ears, covered by the headphone cushions

the music is outside / it’s happening outside / the music is outside / the music is outside

outside the music swells and recedes like a thought like a strange after thought after thought after thinking we could be any manner of thing in our thoughts any shape we take any shape necessary to fill the room look out over it look

there's something outside of this. there's something outside of me. there's something we don't know about, something that's coming for us slowly, slowly, coming for us all at once like that you know it you know there's something like that there always is in these sorts of situations in this manner of business there's always something going on of this nature. it's who we are. it's how we be who we are. there's something outside of this. there's something happening outside of this. listen for it, learn to speak its language. learn its customs, its daily routine. learn what it wants, what it needs, what it's looking for


 
 
music: tear ceremony - hello young lovers
 
 
 
selva oscura
05 June 2018 @ 08:00 pm



judith
how is this current struggle to feel hope, to feel anticipation, to take pleasure in what has yet to unfold - how is my failure to embody these qualities interfering with my connection to source? i mean, i get it. on paper, i understand that if i don't experience hope, if i'm not feeling anticipation, if i'm not taking pleasure in things that have yet to unfold, i lose my sense of wonder. i cannot support joy. joy becomes just another thing i can't afford.

guide
what's something you can anticipate, right now, in this moment?

judith
...i can't identify anything. i know there has to be something. but there's always a problem. it's either too complicated, or it's blotted out by circumstances, or hoping for that makes me a bad person, or i don't deserve it, or it probably won't happen. shouldn't get my hopes up. shouldn't count eggs as chickens. or i've ruined it for myself. or circumstances have damaged too much for me to enjoy it. or anxiety has calcified what could have been joyful anticipation.

guide
you don't trust hope. you've experienced it too many times as a weapon.

judith
is hope a destructive impulse, or is it a survival skill?

guide
as any intangible supply, like happiness or sadness or anger, it's neither and it's both. in the right context, hope will keep you alive; in the wrong, it will kill you dead. hope is powerful. hope is power. hope can be the key and it can be the lock. we are not here to colonize your attentions, but we would like to suggest that you explore the different ways you've hoped over the course of your life. maybe if you can start to understand what causes you to feel hope and what the path of your hope has led you to in the past, you can start to see how letting it back in will help you move. we are not here to interfere with any of your relationships, but maybe you can start to see how anyone who tries to shut down your hope, or exacerbates a situation where you are starting to feel or have already been feeling hopeless, that that is someone you should observe precautions in communication with, especially right now. balance the more challenging interactions with those connections where you can be playful. play is extremely important for you in your current circumstances, when you are arguably more hopeless than you've been at any point in your life prior.

judith
i don't know about that. the first half of 2000 was certainly a world of shit.

guide
indeed, it was.


 
 
music: robert rich - curtain
 
 
selva oscura
1.
around the campfire, we assemble as a coven. my covenmate’s mother has died. my covenmate is three hours out of the emergency room. it was coming from a long ways back. she did not think it would happen for at least a few more years. she stares into the fire. staring into the fire, she leans forward, again singeing the top of her mugwort wand and brushing the smoke back towards her as she speaks.

she does not have passwords.

she has so much to do.

she is glad that they had this last year together.

she told her toddler that his grandmother went to the garden.

she was only 56.

the accumulations of poverty: decades of insufficient healthcare, jobs nobody else wants to do. the collected debts of striving, after all, she did it for us, a tragic chorus my covenmate knows even better than i do. the losses we will not realize the devastation of until that devastation is upon us. i wonder how i can help. i think over my journals, what i have written, what i will write. breathing in, i again wish i could document the smell of woodsmoke exactly for future reference, and by that i mean: this specific fire. this exact moment in time.

my covenmate’s two year old son weaves around us around the fire. he calls us each out by name and attempts to identify notable incidents in our shared recent history.

the little one walks around my lawn chair. he walks clockwise. he points. “judith,” he names. behind the chair, he calls. “roland.” again, he faces me. again, he points. “judith,” he names. behind the chair, he calls again. “roland.” facing me again, he smiles sweetly. “judith,” he names. and behind my chair, he calls again: “roland.” the fire crackles. i lapse into the language of epiphany, where so many words swell wide and overlap the sound can only be understood by the uninitiated as silence.

“you’re right, love,” says his mother. “we did go hiking with judith at lake roland, a couple weeks ago.”

“weeks go.” he giggles, more fey than toddler. i am confident that we’re both aware there’s more to it than that. i reach forward and trace a crescent onto his forehead with my thumb, a common enough salutation between priestesses. he grins at me crookedly, conspiracy in his gaze, and turns away.

“BAMMM-BOOO,” he hollers, pointing at the next witch in the circle.

i don’t know what to think.



2.
my friend died and i am devastated by his loss

AND

my friend killed himself, emotionally disconnected from me completely before doing so, did not reach out to me in any way shape or form to say goodbye, then requested in his final (general assembly) letter that people not gather together to dwell on their sadness about him, and you know what?

goddamnit, paul.

turns out you might need to visit a little roadhouse called “you don’t get to tell me how to grieve.” check out the weekly friday night performance by local up-and-comers “but that’s basically what you did with your non-refundable ticket and turns out i’m pretty damn pissed at you about that.”

because you know that scene in the neverending story where the horse is drowning and you can’t remember a time in your life before you’d seen the neverending story so you know the horse is going to die and as much as you hate that scene you know you’re going to have to watch it again, because, as it happens, you happen to know that’s why you’re watching this movie, right now, in fact, that’s what brought it onto your screen.

because the horse is going to die. and the horse is going to die. atreyu will not be able to save the horse. nobody will save the horse. no matter how many times you watch this scene, it is always the same scene: except worse, these years later, because you have context. loved ones you have also watched drown. loved ones who wouldn’t turn it around. who couldn’t turn it around. who tried with every fucking thing they had to turn it around, but it was big, it was bottomless, it was too big and bottomless to be turned around.

this seed was planted sixteen years and four months before its bitter harvest. paul had, in fact, by the time of this consolidating event, this ultimately successful suicide plan that took sixteen years and four months to run itself through, emotionally disconnected from me completely for several years before he took that step he, in the moment, sixteen years and two months ago, redacted. a more refined strategy than when we were sixteen, that first time we assumed these marks on the stage, our first dress rehearsal, still bearing little resemblance to the final performance.

i didn’t know for 48 hours then, either. two full school days had gone past. i thought: he seemed listless. edgy. like maybe he was coming down with something. i thought: that’s got to be what it is.

i listened to his mother cradle the receiver before i hung up myself. i hung up the phone and slid down the door of the cabinet next to the sink. sitting on the floor, i wondered who i could talk to about this. i couldn’t talk to anyone about this. i shouldn’t need to talk to anyone about this. this was an averted crisis. he hadn’t done what he set out to do. he’d been stabilized. he’d pull through. they planned to move him into the psychiatric ward the next day. he’d be out of the hospital in time for us to take creative writing together in the fall, unless his parents decided he needed to change schools again. oh, god, i’d hate it if we couldn’t take creative writing together, i thought, moments later sideswiped for the first time with that peculiar and guilty bigger picture: that clicked into alignment and i felt like a terrible person. i reminded myself that he hadn’t succeeded, so it was fine. his doctors would make better what his loved ones could not, right? i could think selfish thoughts about our upcoming creative writing class. he was young, he was resilient, and it would be okay, right? right?

except i was worried, as i should have been. i was terrified, as i needed to be.

and i was angry, as i had every right to be.

who the fuck did he think he was, trying to do that? didn’t he understand that his suicide would destroy me? he knew things about me that no one else did. he’d been there for me in ways nobody else could. i loved having him in my life. i loved him. sitting on the kitchen floor that evening with the windows open, the storm rolling in, i folded my arms over my knees and rested my head on my arms. goddamnit, paul, i thought. i don't know what to think.

even worse: his doing this opened up the possibility that other people could do this. other people could be plotting this. other people could sneak suicidal intentions past my notice even as we’d been sitting next to each other in biology lab for the entire school year. passing notes back and forth during filmstrips. drawing on each other’s notebooks. shit. shit.

even worse: what if me? what was i capable of? what if i reached a point where there didn’t seem to be any answers until i thought of the one that he did:

but then. did i even corner him, later that summer? did i shake my fist? tell him “don’t?”

i don’t remember. let’s assume that means i buried it. in ouija boards and weird phenomena. in my first tentative forays into ecstatic writing, shifting the frequency of my awareness with a pen in my hand. when i didn’t know what i was writing, i could write anything. messages from my spirit guides. scenes from other lives, previous, speculative, fantasy. i described dismembered figures and confusing experiences in intermediary states. i documented dreams, as i do now, with no real interest in interpretation. i wrote around my anger. i wrote the long way around my anger.

the friction between these tensions. the place where our losses converge. i wrote it out, as best i was able. i did not know what to do with that writing, so i let it disappear.

i don’t know what to think.


3.
dehydrated, hungry, and strange i pick up the next notebook. i determine for certain if this is a notebook i filled back to front or front to back. i find the starting point and i start: skimming the page, turning the page, skimming the back. i don’t look for very long. sometimes i tear out the pages one by one, sometimes i tear them out in bundles. sometimes i stop, look over the page more closely, tear it out and set it aside: but this is the exception.

i have cast a circle. i have invoked my guides. i have prayed to my gods for guidance in this process: this is a destruction trance. i am dancing the world into ashes.

it is a physical ordeal, as such trances tend to be.

at the end of it, i am not covered with ash but a snowfall of scrap, bits and flicks of notebook leavings. at the end of it i am dizzy, lightheaded, placeless, ungrounded. i ground and center. i burn mugwort and sage. i do not know what i will do with the waste: grief processing, hundreds of scrawled pages from the last three years. i wrote it out, as best i was able. it is true in every respect besides one: none of it owns my anger. i wrote around that. it is time to own my anger. that is the reason i have been called to this ritual: my energy was getting stuck in these pages, and it is time, now, to transform them into an offering.

what are my options? my options are many.



i could shred it, stew it, pulp it and make new paper.

i could burn it and make ink from the ash.

i don’t know what i will do. i don’t know what to think.

all the same.



 
 
music: tor lundvall - the quiet room
 
 
selva oscura
21 May 2018 @ 08:17 pm
multiple times this year i've needed to define boundaries around how much of my dead stuff i will allow strangers to touch.

that's how my year is going. what about you?
 
 
selva oscura
orpheus
i was thinking

eurydice
what were you thinking?

orpheus
quite a number of things, many of them incoherent, some of them indecent, others neither here nor there but quite specific in their placelessness. i was just kind of paddling along in that river of thought, looking at all the ports and paths i could divert myself off into and have quite a merry visit, at least for the afternoon, when i had an idea. remember when you played me that one song - what was that one song? the one that

eurydice
“celestial soda pop,” by ray lynch.

orpheus
my, you answered that quickly. how do you know that’s the song i’m asking about? it’s certainly not the only song you’ve ever played for me.

eurydice
and you didn’t notice any of them. that one, you noticed.

orpheus
i’ve noticed other songs you played for me.

eurydice
mostly so you could tell me to turn it off and never make you even accidentally hear it again.

orpheus
what song did i say that about?

eurydice


eurydice
the song you were asking about was “celestial soda pop.”

orpheus
by david lynch. wait

eurydice
ray lynch. david lynch is someone else. you’ve asked about it before.

orpheus
i have?

eurydice
several times.

orpheus
could you put it on a tape for me?

eurydice
sure, but i can’t spare any tapes right now.

orpheus
i’ll bring one tomorrow. i’ll bring two. one for you to put the song on and give back and one to make up to you for trash talking music you like. maybe you could put some peach nightmare on there for me, too.

eurydice
tangerine dream. like those nice gray maxell ones?

orpheus
i know. those are your favorites.

eurydice
so about this idea of yours.

orpheus
you played the soda pop song and you read that poem over it. the one about

eurydice
death.

orpheus
…shapeshifting. it was about waking up in the morning to discover you’d so completely blended into your environment you could no longer see yourself in the mirror. which, yeah. you’re right.

eurydice
death by assimilation.

orpheus
but that’s kind of what i’m getting at. i thought about that poem a lot. i thought about the song you played for it, too. i couldn’t remember the artist or the song name, just that one of them was a little weird, and it was. i kept thinking and thinking about those two things and those two things together until, how do i explain this?

eurydice
your fingertips got itchy.

orpheus
how did you know that?

eurydice
you have “i wrote a song” voice.

orpheus
i have a voice for that?!

eurydice
i like it. it’s almost giddy. you sound like you did that day we found an unopened box of cinnamon toast crunch right after discovering that pbs was running your favorite show about dinosaurs.

orpheus
that’s basically what it’s like, but how do you know about the itchy fingers thing?

eurydice
it's a creative failsafe. your body demanding you explore an idea by irritating you until you do.

orpheus
but itchy fingertips are so specific. i can’t remember ever mentioning it.

eurydice
when you want to work on music but you can’t, you scratch at your fingertips with your thumbnail or rub them on the edge of a tabletop. sometimes there’s tapping.

orpheus
huh.

eurydice
quite a lot of tapping, actually.

orpheus
sorry about that.

eurydice
you’re no drummer, but it’s fine. i get it. i have failsafes, too. mine just tend to be more mood related.

orpheus
oh boy.

eurydice
as you have already observed. i don’t think it’s unusual. my friend anita would twirl her hair when she wanted to dance and couldn’t. the summer before she moved to minnesota, she slipped at the pool and still had her arm in a cast in september. the first day of school we sat next to each other at lunch and i saw she had this whole network of bald spots on the side of her head opposite the broken arm.

orpheus
i don’t understand.

eurydice
see, she broke her arm so she couldn’t dance — and she had this nervous habit of

orpheus
no, what’s this about you having a friend?

eurydice
oh. anita was cool. i slept over at her house a couple times. the first time we sneak-watched legend until two in the morning and ate her brother’s pop tarts. the other she put a stevie wonder record for her signature routine where she leaped over me in my sleeping bag on the basement floor while she was wearing glow-in-the-dark jelly shoes.

orpheus
an interactive performance!

eurydice
she worked a lot with the fourth wall. so about this song that you wrote about my poem.

orpheus
it’s one of my favorites.

eurydice
you played it for me when i was out sick in the winter.

orpheus
i did, but i don’t remember telling you that’s what it was. also i seem to remember you being asleep when i played it.

eurydice
i was awake for everything you played. i wanted to hear all of it. but i didn’t want you to worry that you were keeping me awake, so i pretended to sleep. but i heard that and knew it was in response to my poem. i almost sat up and asked if i could read it for you over the new song, but my throat hurt too much.

orpheus
i’m impressed you could tell.

eurydice
sometimes i can. a lot of the time i can’t. in that song, i could hear my wildflower bedsheets.

orpheus
as you should have. so that’s basically my idea.

eurydice
i write a poem

orpheus
i write a song from that poem

eurydice
i write another poem from that song

orpheus
and so on. until it feels finished or stops being fun.

eurydice
..remember how i’ve been begging you to try something like this since before we started dating?

orpheus
yeah, well, sometimes it just takes me a couple years to catch on.


 
 
music: syntonic research - gentle rain in a pine forest
 
 
selva oscura
unnamed female protagonist
there is a mountain, there are many mountains. there is the mountain one can see, but there is also the mountain beneath it. all that old, ancient earth, cresting and crackling, showing and concealing itself in the same gesture. there is a mountain between us, but it’s only a mountain. we’ve come a long way in recent months.

unnamed male protagonist
have we?

unnamed female protagonist
i’d say. used to be just hearing my name would give you the shakes.

unnamed male protagonist
that’s only because i left you to die.

unnamed female protagonist
i guess, in a manner of speaking, this is true, but it’s not the only truth on record.

unnamed male protagonist
what’s another?

unnamed female protagonist
where were you leaving yourself?

unnamed male protagonist
i wanted to make myself a stain on the pavement. that’s what i felt like, that’s what i deserved. that’s who i wanted to be, at least at the time, at least now, looking back on it.

unnamed female protagonist
that’s sad.

unnamed male protagonist
you don’t know the half of it.

unnamed female protagonist
yes i do.

unnamed male protagonist
yeah, you do. of course you do. you always know stuff like that.

unnamed female protagonist
but only because i think about it so much.

unnamed male protagonist
what do you think about?

unnamed female protagonist
the stories, mostly. the stories that were taken from us. the stories that were taken from me. the stories that were forced upon us. the stories we were abandoned to. the stories waiting patiently for us to remember that they are still waiting, patiently, for us to remember them. i also think about your stories, quite a bit i think about them, but then again, of course i do. you gave them to me for a reason, after all.

unnamed male protagonist
did i?

unnamed female protagonist
did you?

unnamed male protagonist
tell me one of my stories.

unnamed female protagonist
there’s that time you huddled in the shrubbery across the street, watching while my family loaded me into the car. you believed i couldn’t see you and you were correct. i couldn’t see you, i just knew you were there. i didn’t have time to confirm this knowledge, or give it context, i was too busy trying to tear out the last remaining bits of hair on my father’s head and clawing at the eyes of this total stranger claiming to be my aunt. i couldn’t believe it was actually happening. i couldn’t believe my own father thought this was an appropriate solution to a situation he’d never even tried to understand. i couldn’t believe you were there, in the bushes, standing there staring at it, letting it happen. or maybe i could. my opinion of you was in a period of rapid transition, as you might recall.

unnamed male protagonist
it’d pretty much have to be.

unnamed female protagonist
it’s never been anything you couldn’t recover, you know. you were scared. you let fear drive the ship. scared people do much more horrible things to each other all the time, and they recover from it. all it usually takes is trying. five or six “i’m sorries,” properly placed, a good letter, some respectful listening, maybe a little present. i like roses. i’m really not a hard woman to satisfy, in this respect. mostly all i need is for you to make clear that my continued presence in your life matters to you.

unnamed male protagonist
point of clarification?

unnamed female protagonist
yes?

unnamed male protagonist
what for you constitutes a "good" letter?

unnamed female protagonist
my criteria is arbitrary.

unnamed male protagonist
as it should be. got anything else?

unnamed female protagonist
there’s that time your parents tried to kill you.

unnamed male protagonist
you mean my childhood?

unnamed female protagonist
there’s that time you set fire to your dead father’s guitar.

unnamed male protagonist
that one’s pretty good. tell that.

unnamed female protagonist
you found it in the attic one day when you were hiding up there, burning japanese incense in a burner you made out of a beer bottle and sand and reading proust. you hadn’t known your father to have any inclination toward music, though you hadn’t really known your father.

unnamed male protagonist
he threw himself in the chesapeake when i was five.

unnamed female protagonist
wait a minute, now, who’s telling this story?

unnamed male protagonist
sorry.

unnamed female protagonist
you found the guitar up there in the attic. you found it and thought, i always wanted to be able to play the guitar. maybe you’d play it for me, you thought. you hadn’t even known you had this desire until you discovered that you had the tool necessary to teach yourself how to do it, or, at first, you thought you did. you pulled it out from under the broken end table it was supporting to assess its condition. that’s when you discovered the dedication. this had been a wedding present. someone actually gave your parents a gift for their wedding and marked this guitar accordingly. it had your parent’s initials with a heart between them and what must have been the date of their wedding, reason being it was four months before your birthday.

unnamed male protagonist
our birthday.

unnamed female protagonist
our birthday. functionally, it was not functional. no strings. chewed up fretboard. the body was warped and separating in places. it honestly looked like it had been used as a planter.

unnamed male protagonist
no it hadn't. i never said that.

unnamed female protagonist
the story needs to be free. let the story be free.

unnamed male protagonist
okay, but the guitar i burned hadn't ever been used as a planter.

unnamed female protagonist
anyway, what ruined that first guitar for you was that damn dedication. music shouldn’t lie, you thought, so you drove out to the drugstore for some lighter fluid and set it on fire that sunday morning, while your mother and uncle were inexplicably at church as they were every sunday morning. it's when you could burn things, on sunday mornings.

unnamed male protagonist
and i really should have burned it further from the house.

unnamed female protagonist
…but that’s a story for another time.


 
 
music: pteranodon - adrift