"...l'Amerique, mais c'est la deconstruction:" To Be An American, Now
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"...this pure being, this absolute immediacy has equally the character of something absolutely mediated."
(G.W.F. Hegel, Science of Logic)
"In this fiction of truth, 'America' would be the title of a new novel on the history of deconstruction and the deconstruction of history."
(Jacques Derrida, Memories for Paul de Man)
"The grand round mirror of wisdom is as black as pitch."
(Yasutani-roshi, dokusan at Hokkaido)
Mediation: Necessarily, one takes paths before one knows them as such. There is the sun and the landscape, fleeting, harder to grasp,
but finally, intractable as ideology. The direction that an idea will lead, the goal, is a groggy hallucination, an image of desire necessarily chosen in ignorance; an innocence replete with tools, tools scattered, broken tools, a litter of tools. Thus it is always attention to a tooled landscape that retroactively bathes each move in a surplus light of value. I insist that ethics consists of an attentiveness to the landscape.
"...only when you have come back from the dead, so to speak, will that which hears manifest itself. Your persistent inquiry, 'what is it that hears?' will eventually lead you to an awareness of nothing but the question itself. You must not, however, be misled into thinking this is the subject which hears."
(Bassui Tokusho, Letters)
Detour: In L.A. "talent" is an epithet, a regrettable detour, a delay between investment and return. In the Academy digression is suspect, the obfuscation of a stroll to a goal: So, open in the Coconino County Jail, Krazy Kat and me, the transcendental American "peekin through the lace bandanna, like a one-eyed Cheshire..." Murderers and Indians and myself in two feet of black hair and a blue air-force jacket, ensconced in Arizona in the Summer of '74. They called me "Woodstock" and offered not to rape me unless I wanted to be fucked; distinctions of the felony block for this china cat sunflower, listening with a straight face and a good question, indeed. We played poker, and at night we passed drugs from cell to cell. Economy of the cage that I became: where crime exists only outside. In the Fall I was beginning my first semester at Bennington.
"Within yourself you will find no 'I,' nor will you discover anyone who hears. Do not mistake this state for Self-realization, but continue to ask yourself even more intensely, 'Now who is it that hears?' "
(Bassui Tokusho, Letters)
Outside: To the South, in Saugaro the heat was so heavy on us it was a sound, a hiss, and matter was an idea that energy once had, a rippling and unsteady interfacing flash mediating into glass circles of melted sand: lightning on the red desert where it hadn't rained in eleven months. Clouds roll upon the bowls of ridges and low pressure sucks out through the forests of cactus in the black summer air, effacing the difference between breath and wind. Modulations slipping through the absolute in waves, fluctuations: Hegel. A line of Hegels in waistcoats and fine lace stretching to the horizon of a desert nation.
An infinity of nations. An endless landscape of delay. Here a prisoner
"Saguaro" by Josette Urso
" 'Being-time' means that time is being. Every existent thing is time. The sixteen foot golden figure is time. As it is time it has the grandeur of time...Man disposes himself and construes this disposition as
the world. You must recognize that every thing, every being in this entire world is time."
(Dogen-zenji, Shobogenzo, Section II, "Being-Time")
All the time in the world: "Gina said when she was just five years old 'you know there's nothing happening at all. Two TV sets and two Cadillac cars, you know there ain't nothing happening at all.'" Stephen Hawking would like to put origin under erasure, but he doesn't know the terminology. He says: "If, as Einstein suggested, time is infinite, but bound, asking what came before is like asking 'on the surface of the planet Earth, what is one mile North of the North Pole?'" East begins an absent nation on the surface of a mapping Earth.
"...the ground, the reason, why the beginning is made with pure being
int the pure science [of logic] is directly given in the science itself. This pure being is the unity into which pure knowing withdraws..."
(G.W.F. Hegel, Science of Logic)
Cargo Cult: Absolute knowing Realizes, too late, a Hegel. What an idea. To the North, in the Superstitions, there are Red-Tailed Hawks
the size of Eagles, and a heavy peace waits on the lush Senora. In Phoenix, divorcees play tennis with injury lawyers while vacationers and retirees retire, and no one gives a shit. No one knows how this began. Presumably, an air conditioner dropped off of a passing jet and the natives accrued. Here, in the inside of the desert (in the middle of nowhere, the edge of nowhere?), on the outside of the outside, there is a fountain pouring forth reflections like the gold water that sustains them: snippets of lawns and gardens once glimpsed through windows in the ordered kitchens of the Beaver and Donna Reed. Televisions of childhood in the frozen East. East is the dark
brick city. East is the Orient, west of California. I am calling you here, to your home.
"The total want of all the usual courtesies of the table; the voracious
rapidity with which the viands were seized and devoured; the strange
uncouth phrases and pronunciation; the loathsome spitting, from the contamination of which it was absolutely impossible to protect our dresses; the frightful manner of feeding with their knives, till the whole blade seemed to enter into the mouth; and the still more frightful manner of cleaning the teeth afterward with a pocket knife, soon forced us to feel that we were not surrounded by the generals, colonels, and majors of the old world..."
(Mark Twain quoting the observations on America of the European Mrs. Trollop)
I'm telling you what to believe: Because I know where we are. On the horizon the redundant desert (only recently dry) drops six inches in twenty years, collapsing into the aquifer. My great-grandfather sold trinkets to the Indians in the mid-west and metal covered bibles to the Europeans for their sons during World War One. His golden fountain pen awaits me in my mother's safe. In the tautology of a dead desert - "A" equals "A" - I am the pathfinder and path, example of the example, performing the function of truth. The way of the name is the name of the way.
"Democracy is democracy in so far as our villain and our hero - by having their fun, by playing their brutal little game - happen (despite their worst and best efforts) to be fulfilling our heroine's immeasurable destiny. Joy is her destiny: and joy comes through Ignatz - via Offissa Pupp; since it's our villain's loathing for the law which gives him the strength of ten when he hurls his blissyielding brick. Let's not forget that. And let's be perfectly sure about something else. Even if Offissa Pupp should go crazy and start chasing Ignatz, and even if crazy Krazy should swallow crazy Ignatz and crazy Offissa Pupp should swallow crazy Krazy and it was the millennium - there'd still be a brick. And (having nothing else to swallow) Offissa Pubb would then swallow the brick. Whereupon, as the brick hit Krazy, Krazy would be happy.
(E.E. Cummings, Introduction to Krazy Kat, by George Herriman)
Marc Penka 2002
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