Or not. But probably. We spent eight hours with Yuh-Shioh bringing paintings out one at a time, perched on rocks against the wall. I would meditate with cactus quartz, known as a collaboration stone, then hand it to her as I approached the painting with my deck of Dakini Oracle tarot cards, rosemary, lavender and Mercury’s fennel sprig in my hair. We built the concentration, always in the room together, and I would stand with the cards close to the painting, then cut the deck nine times. Of the sixty-five cards, only five kept repeating, and I would sit at my computer to begin hammering out a block of text. The title usually appeared at the end of a text block. I would read it aloud and it always connected. For instance, “framing vapor of the departed” came at the end of a text block and Yuh-Shioh explained that this painting was created after an encounter with a ghost. The eight hours we spent for the titling ritual was the opposite of draining as we burned Palo Santo wood chips and used Steve Halpern’s DEEP THETA music as a trance vehicle. The question then might be that if this is really an excess and not just a valorised and spectacular excess, but an excess which is too much to bear, and there I hear Prynne in that expression of mine, then by what measure can you reduce the significance of love in your life, so as not only to be able to stay alive but still to be able to honour its centrality and its foundation in your existence. Here I come back to the preface of Finite Love titled “Reasons Not to Publish,” worth quoting at length: (1) to evade some alert, punitive power, like an oppressive state. (2) Paranoia. (3) We undervalue our texts; for instance, we take them for something unreadable, or occurring in abundant natural deposits. (4) The texts are injurious personal literature. (5) We forget that we have written the texts, or give away our manuscripts. (6) We want total control over who sees our texts. (7) The texts are morally corrupt. (8) We desire and have no reliable access to anonymity / pseudonymity. (9) To be nearby to e.g. clarify. (10) We want our peers working in a similar mode to flourish (or more generally, want them to take receipt of the visibility back-flow, whatever it is). (11) We are reluctant to obviously improve on the work of yet-living elder writers. (12) To withhold something from an object of criticism; perhaps attention / drive / dignity / interim knowledge of its weak points. (13) As industrial action, perhaps secondary ... (19) To prevent lock-in. (20) The work’s not yet begun. (21) Conviction that ‘finished’ criteria do not exist. (22) We await a formal moment. For example, the texts are occasional verse composed in advance of the foreseeable. (23) We have waited too long. For example, the texts now serve interests that oppose us, or the nature of virtue has changed. (24) People will dislike, misunderstand or feel intimidated by the text; in particular, ones we love. (25) Our verba macks mightier than our res, our expression outwits our content. We are concerned that our texts will punch above their weight, will be more persuasive than they deserve to be ... (30) Memento mori: we want to remind ourselves they will not outlive our lives. (31) More generally, we don’t trust ourselves to be as virtuous after we publish the texts. (32) Even more generally, any apprehension relating to the personal effects of fame / failure, or of critical attention / neglect ... (34) We don’t wish to distract our friends or allies, who have better shit to be doing ... like: Calculate that it begins with the simple problem / that if the Earth ceases to support life, and human / life does not continue elsewhere, all economic / activity will also cease. There are several ways / to estimate the value of Earth. Assign the Earth / its home components, that everything lives, at least / is not value. All life is little overvalued high risk, / so avoid estimations. One way to avoid this systematic / inflation of the price of life compared to others / is to estimate the cost of replacing Earth / compared to costing another planet with compatible / orbit. And if the work were nearly complete, ask / how much is comfort going to cost, competitively, / which is also the total of barely natural, nearby and / at issue. Plus transport. No one can separate my owl ferocity / out from my supine champagne slouch / my Immanent flow from my metrical dead lock my dreams / from my knowledge of death or my grief. / The self I make up from constituent loves is a singular / thing that the market can alter the horror / of being unloved, selling poorly & each new occasion / may change it forever from standing, I mean, for a while there was this channel on TV that started following a white horse. No matter what time you tuned in the horse would be there somewhere in frame, eating, walking, wandering. The shots were static tracking shots providing a wide angle on a landscape; when the horse left the screen the feed would cut to another angle that again included the horse. It was unclear who was operating the camera or cameras and how the feed could operate so seamlessly. There was almost never any sound. Only if you turned the volume up as high as it could go you might hear a low wind, though it was difficult to tell if this was just a production of distortion. The terrain looked like earth but there was never any people. There were no indications of destruction, no blood or bodies, though also never any animals or insects in the frames. The horse moved along rivers, into forests, past huge ditches full of mud, toward buildings in the distance glinting, into houses with open doors, across living rooms that looked like our living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, up stairs, down stairs, into shopping malls and banks. Sometimes it would be night, sometimes bright daylight. It would rain and rain. The strategy is inspired by tilapia (and other freshwater fish), which use a different form of Vitamin A, dehydroretinal, to bind with their opsins (the retina-based proteins that turn light into an electrochemical signal). In humans, opsins preferentially bind with retinal to form rhodopsin; in freshwater fish, it’s more common for dehydroretinal and opsin combine to form porphyropsin. The difference between the two light-sensitive visual pigments is small at the blue end of the spectrum, but porphyropsin is progressively more sensitive than rhodopsin at longer wavelengths. I mean, it’s like Melissa Broder says: “What We Love Most is Definitely Going to Kill Us Hallelujah”:Wade in the water / Wade in the goddamn water / I have been wading / I wade and wade and don’t even know / The water dissolves me / … / The water is burning / … / I am pointing to the water / I say look look water! / This is how flowers are like honey badgers / & ok here is a question / do you think bears had antlers / back in the 80s? / / ok, no, ok / / but what about / back in the 1480s? The whiskered catfish in his bloodwarm puddle admires you — you garnish his taco — mutual admiration flange pedals — you snort the species line. You can drift from chock-a-block diamond lanes in L.A. through smaze and the pampas of Muscovite satellites and antediluvian GE transponders into cuke space — where you flex a platinum body suit and spin in gearshafts of the hot air balloon minter & the grass machine. For instance, right now I want to fall out of this chair and slither along the garage floor, babbling and drooling — and I want to roll into the sun (it’s a cool sunny day) and rub fists full of grass on my cheeks, screw the grubs, and then — not sure about this part — lick the hubcaps of my Subaru, in which I can see reflected “a tiny purple blemish” in the framing utopian dream of “the wild carrot” — Which means I have exhausted myself while telling you this story about these 2 sisters and how they lived inside the belly of a whale for 6 months. Talk to me more about this rail gun ... It’s powered by EMPs of some absurd wattage, can be propelled up to 150 nautical miles, and could pierce the chassis of two tanks set side by side. It also has a unicorn painted in the side of it. The unicorn has little wings.
[Note: Sources: Richard Owens, Keston Sutherland, The Two Brothers, Finite Love, Michael Kindellan, “Terra form A”, quoted in Richard Owens, “From Cambridge With Love”, at Damn the Caesars, 28 May 011; CA Conrad, “#103: WRITING THE LETTER OF YOUR LIFE IN THE CLEARING: Titling Yuh-Shioh Wong’s Paintings”, at (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals, 23 Apr 014; Intercapillary Space, Oct 08; JBR; Blake Butler, “Eye of Now”, at Action Yes 18; Nicola Twilley, and Peyton Rowlands, quoted in Twilley’s “Dietary Superpowers”, at Edible Geography, 23 Apr 014; JBR, but see next; Melissa Broder, “What We Love Most is Definitely Going to Kill Us Hallelujah”, quoted in “National Poetry Month Featured Poet: Melissa Broder”, at Entropy, 23 Apr 014; Caleb Gordon, FB comment, 23 Apr 014; Oscar Bruno d’Artois, “or maybe I was awake”quoted in “Art by Ariel Fintushel & Words by Oscar Bruno d’Artois”, at Shabby Doll House Genius, 23 Apr 014; Julien Poirier, “The Gravity Dumpling House”, at Harriet, 23 Apr 014; JBR; Divya Victor, William Carlos Williams, and Amanda Ackerman, quoted in Victor’s “IN OTHER EDENS: On Amanda Ackerman’s The Book of Feral Flora”, at Harriet, 23 Apr 014; JBR; Brian Denley and Greg Purcell, FB comments/conversation, 24 Apr 014]