Writing is a footprint left in concrete which affords you enough space to leave home, explore the Universe and return later to measure the size of your immature impression.
If your foot still fits, perhaps you haven’t walked long enough.
When the toes spill over, the arch bends uncomfortably and the heel cries freedom, know that walking has changed you and you can never stand in the same place twice.
The show preyed upon my long running fascination with pre-language. I am deeply engaged in the way language develops amongst different children and how each is individually stimulated in conversation to grow their vocabulary. I’ve never been one to talk down to my own daughter and I afford other children the same respect. I can say “assimilation” around a child and find a practical explanation in the next moment for their is a joy in the light of their curiosity or maybe that was just a a glassy confusion growing over their eyes. In any case, what is it about the sweetness of the voice that causes mothers globally to reach for such a similar series notes, inflections and melody. How does it shape our child’s appreciation of song, language and vocal shift? Is there a reason that some children have a deeper whine to their entreaty?
When the world was smaller, in other words, when economist were confined to doing moral philosophy, the world was great. People never mistook their cat for a washing machine. And let me explain. A washing machine is a machine…it needs continuous maintenance. It’s never going to get better on its own and you don’t want volatility for the washing machine. But something organic needs volatility. You see? The problem is when they started teaching economics to people, they started teaching the world how to blow up because economists are trained mentally to mistake your cat for a washing machine. In other words, to mistake the economy for something mechanical rather than organic and something that doesn’t respond to stressors.
NaPoWriMo 1:30 ~ Reminisce Then Release
i carry the insignia
of your memory
like the equation
etched in efflorescence
of a red brick porch step
of the hovel that housed
i carried your scent
in a satchel
no larger than
dangling from the neck
in plain sight
where others complained
it made for painful
pulling me low
like a light boulder
i am carrying
an arrow quiver
emptied into me
for heart sickness
though no vaccination
is an antibiotic
i wanted only
to curry favor
this flavor of nostalgia
once a gastric flame
burning my abdomen
is now slowly dying light
dead from absence
Prometheus has ceased
mere carcass meeting vulture
littering the landscape
in this corridor
The Grizzly: Vol. 2, Ep. 0 ~ Of Nappy, Anti-Conformist Origins
The Grizzly is a choice. These fickle follicles my purposed determination to work through life upon my own terms exemplified by the expanding sage brush cloaking my face. I decided that I should not be buttressed by those conditions concerned with consuming my humanity. If I would gauge my own reaction, I could find happiness, passion and sustained progress in any circumstance. I started by not cutting my hair firmly affixed to the notion that should the desire arise to trim in the future, this conclusion would be rooted in a personal hunger for change and neither reaction to external influences nor habituated behavior. All things else involving dance, writing, investigation and rhetoric grow outward from that point. This unruly mane is a mere representation of those unyielding exploratory boundaries.
The Grizzly is an exercise in non-conformity. Coming forth from five years pursuing the corporate doughnut, a layoff moved me to reject the reconstruction of my persona that I might curry favor in each new contractual arrangement which the day presented. I refuse to cave to a particular countenance that you might consider me accepted. It is preferred that you evaluate my qualifications and expect that I arrive here to complete an assignment for which you shall render payment whereupon I will leave the office in search of a real life. I will not work the extra shift. I will not stay later that you might see my diligence and intense work ethic as a beacon of excellence amongst my peers. I will not pretend that I like people in whom I have no discernible interest. All cordial behavior should be interpreted as my authentic appearance unless I give you cause to consider otherwise. This face is filled with a dense and nappy forest of fierce honesty beholden to no truth larger than the ability to readjust your position.
The Grizzly is free expression. This always casual chorus of human song singing nothing short of curious. He who carries instruments familiar only by name. Together we shall learn from one another and reveal the secrets to be discovered in progression. The path I walk is winsome; barefoot. Smooth as Mississippi mud. On occasion. Sticking to ribs thick. And cleansing Alabama clay. Applachian rock hard gravel. I don’t dance. I merely dodge wind. Slip between humans. Two foot placement. One in front of the other. Finding novel ways to make my missteps look rhythmic; classy. Carrying no camera so significant that I cannot count the beauty in the blinking of an eye. The intensity of a sunset on a slightly moistened summer day. This chin chuckles at the light which lives through children and challenges itself each day to lean into that level of illumination.
The Grizzly is detached…unhinged…disconnected from all that won’t matter, but finding new fascination with each aspect of a living Earth as the hair grows unmanaged contemplating the communal possibilities.
The Grizzly is a choice. My purposed determination to work through life on my own terms initiated by the expanding sage brush coating my face. I decided that I should not be buttressed by the conditions attempting to consume me in life, but that if I could gauge my own reaction, I could find happiness, passion and sustained progress in any circumstance. I started by not cutting my hair fixed fast to the notion that should I desire to cut it in the future, it would be rooted in my personal hunger for change and neither reaction to external influences, nor habituated behavior. All things else (dance, writing, investigation and rhetoric) grow outward from that point. (Photo by aomuse)
On Poetry, Prose & the Repositioning of Pentameter
Some time ago I made a conscientious decision to stop posting so much poetry on this blog. I had become concerned that the blog would be too consumed with my personal writing to prove itself an effective evangelist for this notion called the Literate Epoch. It it my fervent desire to encourage humans to return to a time of great writing, literature and critical thinking. I felt the need to branch out in order to accomplish this task.
Initially I went dormant on the blog. For long periods, I would post nothing. Then I would return with a spartan bit of prose or freewriting which I had done on hiatus. I began to maintain an exhaustive reading schedule to expand my thoughts on previously unexplored ideals which traded upon my burgeoning atheism and skepticism. This gave way to the desire to review books that advanced the intellectual, literary and revolutionary aesthetic that I had hoped would define this Literate Epoch.
When feeling misunderstood in my rapidly shifting opinions, I found an outlet through essays on subjects that I felt would inspire critical thought. Slowly these elements have begun to bond together into a cohesive whole. I feel the blog has sufficiently expanded its wellspring of ideas that a return to poetry would not dilute that level of progress. I thought I should prepare you as I begin to dig into this rich dark compost of unfinished ideas and fashion a garden that I hope shall flourish in the minds who allow it to take root.
On Solipsism and the Reading Process
“We read to know that we are not alone.” ~ C.S. Lewis
It is a matter of debate as to whether C.S. Lewis ever made the above statement since the quote was actually uttered by Anthony Hopkins in the movie “Shadowlands” while playing the role of C.S. Lewis and appears in none of his own writings. You can forgive me the incorrect attribution for moment as you will likely never again see me quote the Christian apologist Lewis since aside from some extremely intriguing critiques of his material, I have not read any of his writings beyond Narnia. The others are quite far down in the list of my intellectual priorities at present.
I draw upon the quote at this time is because it shook loose a thought when I stumbled over it while Google searching my blog name for reference, duplication and syndication. The Post Literate Epoch? is a blog title appeareing over at a little literary pond called “Bookpuddle” in 2007. This particular blog was discussing the concept of children in the digital age existing in a post-literate epoch although if they were using the term in accordance with the original theory, they would actually be speaking of the print epoch.
The author found himself in a particular book store overhearing a conversation between a group of high school girls about a book that one of them having not read somehow managed to complete a book report on the text via some data from a website she had accessed. The group later went on to also express disgust at Jane Austen.
I am no particular fan of Jane Austen either and as I was mentioning to a friend on Facebook earlier, I have only recently returned to a deep reading practice after living as a habitual book skimmer for some 15 years. And yet this quote resounds so powerfully to me after a weekend at the Black Oaks campground where the subject arose as to whether members of our present era find themselves in the grips of an extreme yet subtle solipsism where no external reality exists outside of their own minds and therefore what they dictate to be the most realistic action and outcome is all that is considered in the course of making a decision.
This quote echoes loudly “We read to know that we are not alone.” Today I was reading a text entitled “On Being Black” compiled and edited some time in 1970 by Charles T. Davis and Daniel Walden. Their object in assembling the writings was to draw conclusions and connections between a selection of black authors from the Emancipation period through the waning days of the Black Arts/Freedom/Power movements in the opening of the 70’s and create a discussion for how each writer perceived and used “blackness” in their work. Anthologies find themselves to be a most useful means to repurpose work that may have been overlooked, ignored or analyzed in singular way in order to obtain a new understanding.
“On Being Black” appears in the outset to accomplish this task quite well as its “Introduction” chapter exhibits the overlapping folds and undergirding currents which define each literary movement through which black people in America have transitioned. To read the struggle to wrangle this concept of “blackness” during Emancipation, Reconstruction, Renaissance, and all periods forward and between while not allowing it to become its own dogmatism, one continues to feel ever more deeply connected to a long literary tradition and cultural lineage.
And so I ponder now this process of reading and how it strengthens my external interconnectedness. I am connected now to the author writing and also to the experience of those about whom they have chosen to write. I am communing with a period of time in which I could not live and partaking of a possibility I had not yet imagined.
Perhaps this is why I find myself disturbed both with the dissolution of the community of reading as well as the community of writing. Only yesterday I stumbled across the Salon article citing how many aspiring writers have little desire to read. How then do you connect to others in the larger world? Are there not sufficient studies to show that your circle of personal friends are typically inclined to be very close to you in thought even when you think them diverse?
Reading is an escape from this mental monoculture. You want both something different to think about and something more expansive to talk about. Reading is how you obtain that insight and in the process lift others around you up. Hopefully, your circle of friends is reciprocating the same. For if they are not, then you truly are alone because the scene in your mind never changes. Read and change the wallpaper of thought.
Stupid Writing Worries
Each time I leave my pen and pick it up again, I wonder still below this loosely fixed patch of costumed confidence where the ugly innards of my insecurity lay observing, will I continue to be able to leave this pen and pick it up again? Is it possible that I can forget how to write? When will I have been away too long? Now again will I have left this pen forgetting not simply how, but wherever did I place it in order that I might pick it up again? I worry that writing will leave me. Or I will beseech her presence and she refuse to receive me or relieve me or move through my mind so easy. Perhaps there comes a time when I will have to work for my pleasure. Force myself to write full measure instead of simply scribbling thoughts down in my ledger at my leisure. Someday if I wish to get better, is it possible that I might dread her? See that lonely laptop in my extra room like a literary tomb where tomes and poems and all manner of letters are composed and I am closed off for hours pressing alphabet stew and stewing in political prose searching for repose in a sea of the verbose no longer satisfied with being able to boast how writing sits with me long hours on standby waiting to take flight.
they are / tools of the trade / the needle’s point / where parables are sown / the fuse by which / imagination is sparked / a playground where we / commune with muses / consort with impossibility / indulge our intellect / and align in inspiration / majestic epics / or short literary relics / quests and zealots / or how to better sell it / weld it / antiquity / I’ve held it / letterpressed and smelled it / like tree rings from tall oaks / dead poets give rise / cuz see / when books come alive / so do I / from first editions / motivational speakers / free Riverfront Times / the lines / on a parking meter / I am a deeper / free thinker / because I am / a reader / a knowledge seeker / open-minded unblinded / critiquer / a free speecher / ink bleeder / I be her~~~
~~~be he me : long arm of the law : reacher : for ideas seeming fleeting : explicitly exploratory : especially exotic: once nicknamed “quixotic” : for i pursued knowledge : until knowing curiosity : became a nuisance : a black man : made his home in stacks of ancient tomes : making mischief of history’s mystery : dub me encyclopedia brown : not snuff enough to be ruffled by the limited reasoning : of wikipedia-ed down : writers : i need insight from an insider : an elder’s eloquence : first hand stories from the unforgetting elephant : that left footprints next to harrison : marcus martin or malcolm : my mental mark must be broader than an outcome : we need more study of the “how come” : breed us more readers : who won’t be held hostage : that what is hidden between the lines : goes unnoticed by black folk : who so caught up in a chain game : they chase debt : until permanently reattached to that black yoke : but i proclaim sallie mae must give us free : cause my tuition at the public library : means i can put more of what i learn to work : for me.
Review: Chords and Discords
Hawkins is a quiet gem of the Renaissance era. His selection “Here and Hereafter” is perhaps poetic theme music for my present life journey. I am delighted to have found it. I came by his work first in a John G. Jackson lecture on the history of freethinkers in the black community. There was another version of “Here and Hereafter” which had been referenced as being written for the Poetry Corner in “The Messenger” magazine as printed by A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen. What great delight befell me when I discovered that this text, Chords and Discords, had been made available to the public domain and subsequently digitized by Google Books as I was anxious to read more of his work.
This text which is ostensibly the only one ever compiled by Hawkins seems to be a collection of all of his writings at that point in his life because one can sense the forward journey through artistic engagement with the supernatural and then sudden bursts of expression where he declares firmly his adherence to no creed or manufactured system of beliefs. These bursts lend themselves to great moments in freethought literature such as the aforementioned “Here and Hereafter”, “Too Much Religion”, “A Festival In Christendom”, and “Evolution”. In between, we find moments accented by other standard poetry fare such as selections on love, childhood, longing, and self exploration. In all, it is a delightful and brisk read for any one interested in the freethought literature of that era.
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Review: By Any Means Necessary
There is a documentary on Malcolm’s life that one can occasionally find packaged with some copies of the movie Malcolm X. I consider it the finest documentary done regarding Malcolm’s life because it bypasses narration or peers recounting their relationship or randomly inserted persons raising up how Malcolm affected their lives. All that the documentary includes is a series of speeches, lectures, news clips, and sound bites strung together which trace Malcolm’s life from end to end.
This book is a similar summation. Perhaps no finer text exists with a collection of Malcolm’s writings that display his ability to grapple with the political and cultural conditions to arrive at new truths. It is sufficient in this world to simply be the stake one’s flag in the ground and hold that position until death, but when one can be so public and still allow the world to know that your position has changed upon the arrival of new information; that you might have possibly been wrong and now you are publicly correcting your stance.
This is the signature of a mature human being. One not lost in the leadership role assigned to them, but one whom has transcended and simply recognizes that they are a part of some larger and human and brilliant.
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Every now and then someone will ask me, “Hey Farai, what are you up to these days?” Sometimes they’re fans of my former radio show or tv work, or people who know me professionally, or friends. And my answer used to be a long description of all the work I was doing, or work I thought I would do next, or, generally, anything work related. Now, my answer is “I’m having a midlife crisis, and it’s AWESOME.
You know it’s weird when you wake up that morning and realize that your entire adult life was based on the decision of a teenager. A stoned teenager. I know there must be some investment bankers out there that know the feeling. Actually, if you were an investment banker, you’d be up here. Some time ago we had a dress rehearsal … it was free. Sorry we forgot to tell you about it. Anyway, I invited this guy whose office is on Lafayette and Astor. He sells pretzels. We sat him in your seat. Afterwards we went to a bar and had 5 or 16 beers and he looked at me and said “The Real.” And I said “Yeah.” And he said “The real is not real, my friend. The real is a construct. The real is a creation. The real is artificial. The kid in your play is looking for something in life that can
only be found in art.