26 January 2012

The Parallax Event

There's a short story by Andy Weir called "The Egg" It can be found here:


And it tells a story about how all of us are the same being, that each of us is a life of that being, that through some parallax event, we are born as one of those lives, live it, then die and are reborn somewhere else, somewhen else to experience another of our lives.

The idea is that once we are finished, we will understand compassion for everyone, we will know unconditional love, we will be truly Godlike. That this world is an egg for all that to happen inside of.

I like this idea. I like it because if it is true, and I am viewing things from my current perspective it is Nathan Deeter's time, it is my life, it is my world.

It makes me feel a little self-important, a little like I matter a bit more than everyone else right now.

And then I see it: if the story is true, it is not helping me learn compassion... It's helping me learn vanity.

I've never considered myself very vain, even if I really was. I was picked on as a kid, sidelined, marginalized, left to my own devices because I was too smart, too sick, too quiet, too weird, too uncomfortable in social situations. Or perhaps I was not athletic or good looking or quick-witted or socially adept enough to be understood and accepted by peers.

So the adults who worked with me and cared about me tried to convince me of how special I was. Parents, grandparents, teachers, and my best friends in my early childhood, these guys:

Being a child in the 80s was an onslaught of the "you're the only you there is and that's special" message. Maybe I was.

Maybe I was learning vanity back then and when the message that I continued to get from real people counterbalanced the messages I was getting from fictional people, I guess I had a choice to make. Believe the ugly messages and devote myself to the real world, or believe the special messages and devote myself to the imagination.

I chose the imagination because it felt good to be there. And nobody told you in the 80s that the real world can feel good too.

They didn't make it clear that you were special BECAUSE of the people that enrich your life. That's how I learned compassion.

If I ever mistreat someone, it is unintentional because I am enriched by everyone in my life.

Lately, I've been feeling more mistreated and because, as an adult, I'm trying to choose the real world, I'm feeling like I'm owed a great deal. A ripe dose of beautiful reality or an even healthier dose of retribution. Thirty-seven years is a long time to put up with not being enough or being too much.

25 January 2012

Just east of myself

Just east of myself, you and I
Are making love in an eggshell of satin,
We are somewhere between John and Yoko
And Jack and Rose.

There is no greater joy I will ever know.

North of myself, I am counting the steps between us
At this point in time.

The number seems immense and there is much sorrow.

Just west of myself, I am playing a clarinet
And swearing to only speak in its hollow tones.
Forever. A soft, mooing loneliness.

To the south, the rioting masses.
The horde angers, the graves undug,
The light and silence leak into the earth and all reeks of endings.
You ask, the solemn flowers upturned.

And I assure you, they are,
But only just slightly. And to the east. In hope.

24 January 2012

On the Romantic Spirit

William Wordsworth spent most of his life doing two things: walking around the Lake Country in England with his sister and writing poetry with Samuel Coleridge.

He did this because that was what made him happy, that was what kept him at peace.

He and Coleridge were the first of the Romantic poets. To understand romanticism, you have to start here.

Their poetry differed from so much in several ways, the first of which was that instead of using poetry to show how clever they were, how their intellect was their greatest gift, they used poetry to show how observant they were, to show that their senses were far greater than their intellect.

Wordsworth composed poems while he and his sister walked, long poems which he would remember and write down when he returned from his walk. They often described the places he saw, the people he met, and the tranquility he encountered from walking, from being in nature.

All poems are love poems, but they are not always about two people in love. Sometimes they're about the relationship a man has with the world around him; that relationship can be qualified only by looking at it through his senses.

This is what having the heart of a poet means. Observing the world around you, taking it all in, every ounce of it that is possible, sometimes being overwhelmed by your senses and allowing that to guide your actions, your motivations, and your livelihood.

And loving it. And questioning it. And turning it over in your mind. And yes, eventually rationalizing it. But living inside your senses, not going numb to the constant barrage of sensory input.

The romantic knows the present moment only, he is able to live in that moment, to slow down his own perception of time and see and hear and feel and taste and smell every molecule of the moment.

To know a beloved is not just to know their little quirks, their living patterns, their profile data, but it is also to know their potential. Everything you are in this moment, I see body language inform me and I feel subtle changes in skin, smell anticipation, hear a slight rise in the timber of voices and know what you are feeling.

Wordsworth's contribution to the romantic sensibility is the zealous devotion to nature and the senses. Your body takes in your enmvironment and is at home in that. Your intellect can't see the forest, hear the crunch of the snow, feel the wind. Your rational thoughts can't taste the air as you breathe it in deep.

Only your senses can do that. Only your senses can open up the Romantic Spirit.

Isn't this why the old romantic moves involve things you can smell and hear and see and taste and touch? To open the rational mind to a set of irrational inputs and overwhelm it so that it is forced to revel in it as a child plays and discovers the world around him.

I would much rather see the world as a sandbox to make discoveries in than as a place to be categorized and replaced into boxes as the pragmatists would have. Some life experiences, particularly the most important, can not be sorted and classified.

23 January 2012

Why Love is More Important than Faith

Let's say, for a moment, that Christians are right. That there is something divine about the person who was Jesus Christ, that he was born out of immacculate conception, that he performed miracles, that his whole purpose was to absolve humanity from their sins and he does that by dying.

Let's say, for a moment, that our relationship with the Creator is 100% correct, as we've interpreted, that we are mortal sons and daughters to an immortal, Father. Catholics have a prayer that has solidified that relationship: "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name..." Let's even assume that that love of a parent and his children is a love that is 100% real all the time, going both directions.

Let's assume that the Gospels are 100% true, that every word, Jesus spoke was in red, was that different from all other speakers and was more important than even God's own words spoken to Moses on Sinai. That the letters of Paul were more testaments to Jesus' name as a holy savior, that accepting that fact, and that fact alone could redeem even the most evil of all sinners.

If all that were true, then I can only draw the following conclusions:

1. That Jesus represents an evolution of God, that corporeal, material, mortal existence is an improvement on the original divine, spiritual, immortal essence. That God came to Earth as a man at a time that was in such dire need of a savior that there was no other option in all his infinite power and infinite wisdom.

2. That God, even though a parent, is not responsible enough to raise us, his children, to take care of ourselves, to give us the encouragement to grow and develop on our own, to become our own best versions of ourselves.

3. That those who took up the mantle of Jesus's teachings were as purehearted as God's son and had only the furtherance of his teachings in mind and not his sovereignty. Only highlighted those words to show the importance of them.

I believe God wants us to grow. I don't need a personal savior to keep me from growing, from saving myself. I believe I need to save myself from myself, that I need to sacrifice pride and deceit for unconditional love.

But ever find yourself sacrificing that love to survive to another day. Life isn't something to be proud of, life isn't a secret to keep, life is a gift to give. Just like love is a gift to give. It's a hot potato that I don't wanna be caught holding, having not passed it on.

20 January 2012

Arrows versus Horde

The territory of your heart
is traversed with a slow march
to the territory of your mind.

Your arrows are quick to return
and it is like fighting rain with stone,
like sending dogs to grind

pepper. How swift and lethal
your response, how endless the death
of my troops are. But where one

falls, two rise, where two fall, eight
stand up to continue marching to their fate.
I never give up, I have undying bones,

a horde trods onwards to your castle;
your archers send more missiles.
You never run out of ammunition...

The territory of your mind is surrounded
by my love. It will fall to the ground
because the territory of heart claims dominion.

19 January 2012


I wonder if you've
noticed that I kiss
you to prepare you
to be kissed, if you've
noticed the deep breath

I heave when you walk
in the door, the five
fingers that drum the
cup of your hip each
night before we sleep.

And notice the five
syllables per line
and the five lines per
stanza and that this
poem will have five

stanzas. I notice
the day before it
arrives. It is like
a smell, but more
internal knowledge.

Like I've gone over
this ground before, this
day and minute logged
in a memory
of taste, sound, and touch.

18 January 2012

The Violence of Silence

When you get the silent treatment, the first thing
that happens is the walls begin whispering
about how you fucked up. You catch
only pieces of criticism: "shit...shouldn't have...she hates you now...distrust..."
The drapes, moved by the wind from the open window,
goad you to keep talking, keep trying
to talk yourself out of it, to talk yourself into her world.

But the walls urge you: "Shh...shut up...say nothing."

And that's when the blade enters your gut.

The poet silenced,
the lover rebuffed,
the dream goes dark and evil.

Not saying what is in your heart,
regardless of how fractured and frightened and lonely it is,
the violent crime of tying your tongue down,
keeping your lips tightly shut, your teeth gritted
not out of anger, but out of restraint.

Restraint is a traumatic experience. If you don't believe this, ask a mental patient.

Hands too many to count lock your arms from moving, they sit on your legs,
they crush your chest ever so slightly so you can barely breathe
and you feel like any moment is your last, like safety is a fictional place,
a heaven you only get to when you die,
like they want to control your emotions by controlling your body.

But our body is here to express our emotions. And silence
is the restraint of the most articulate body part we have.

Your silence is the most violent act I know. I'd rather you
dismember me bone by bone until all that remains is

blood shouting back at the walls, "This man was here."