am i here or are all my other moments of being here penetrating the present? am i processing what i am sensing or am i also in the overlaps of presents? if memory is the mother of the muses is her grandchild the alchemy of my history of nows in the crucible of the heated ecstasy of being here now?
in a day’s embers
i experience a gradual decay through my seventh decade in an irresistible process of detachment from the world that will end when i end.
with first light i first-person myself into the I you resurrect before Thou.
O self-revelatory encounter!
wordless at first there springs an attentiveness that mines from paleolithic shadows an endless moment’s willing suspension of disbelief until once more I am wordless at last.
this and this
I bless each absence
Without the creation of a word to name it in the late sixteenth century, did the doctrine or belief that there is no God have existence? What prompted the active rejection of God leading to the refusal to believe in that than which no greater can be conceived let alone have the ability to even conceive of a being greater than oneself at all? Was it the hubris of an impatient heir on the brink of committing parricide?
Some three hundred years after the word was created Friedrich Nietzche proclaimed “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
A self-avowed atheist, did Nietzche mean that there was once a God who had actually died, or rather that the collective idea of one had? Following the so-named Enlightenment, the idea of a universe entirely subject to laws of physics instead of divine providence was now reality. Philosophical discourse had shown that governments did not need to be based around the idea of divine right to be legitimate, but rather formed by the rational consent of the governed — that it was possible to develop a full-scale and consistent human morality without reference to God. It seemed that the human adventure no longer needed God as the source for all morality, value, or order in the universe; philosophy and science now seemed capable of doing that for us.
Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design states “M-Theory predicts that a great many universes were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law. …. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”
Are we the words we make flesh from?
my shadow follows
the sun to the edge
of the earth
At seven, as the firstborn child of a physically and socially isolated post-war family in rural New Zealand, I cradled nightly the overarching vastness of the stars to bed with me; a stone I clung to through the infinity of space and time that stretched between wakefulness and sleep.
Filled with the universe, I would await sleep by trying to image the silence of total absence before the universe gained an existing presence. Nothing – no space, no time, no light, the total absence of everything – strained to take conceptual form within my childhood brain. Absence of light was easy but then I battered my mind against an easily imaged darkness but without form. Was it cubic, conical or spherical? Space requires boundaries. Can nothing be contained? But to be contained within one of these necessitated form and surely the void has no form and thus cannot change.
For hours I would lie in no-sleep trying to come to terms with an infinite sphere with no centre and no circumference until my being slipped into that place which was no-place.
Many years later I would read Jorge Luis Borges’ essay “The Fearful Sphere of Pascal” in which the author explored the possibility “that universal history is the history of a handful of metaphors.” Giordano Bruno, for instance, would come to state exultantly in 1584 “We can assert with certitude that the universe is all center, or that the center of the universe is everywhere and the circumference nowhere”. Borges then suggested that Pascal would darken this image with the words “Nature is a fearful sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
Stephen Hawking later misrepresented that Pope John Paul II had said to him “It’s OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not inquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God.”
Valuing the omnipotent reach of physics and mathematics, Hawking and associates have continued to explore the applicability of quantum theory to the instant before time and space came into being at the big bang. (I continue to struggle with the idea that the beginning can have a “before”.) They came up with a model of the big bang according to the theory of general relativity that was developed to take into account quantum effects which they called the No Boundary Proposal.
The words the Pope actually addressed to Hawking were “Any scientific hypothesis on the origin of the world, such as the hypothesis of a primitive atom from which derived the whole of the physical universe, leaves open the problem concerning the universe’s beginning. Science cannot of itself solve this question: there is needed that human knowledge that rises above physics and astrophysics and which is called metaphysics; there is needed above all the knowledge that comes from God’s revelation.”
with one last breath
nothing slips out of
I started breathing early in life and have grown more than a little attached to it. You could say that we are inseparable companions in the same manner as my heart beat and my shadow are inseparable from me although my shadow is somewhat more so.
In my earlier days a latent tuberculosis infection sought to wrest that from me with far less success than later episodes of laryngospasm and more recently asthma.
The wordiness of my earlier writings elude my ability to read them aloud without resorting to frequently audible in-gasps.
Haiku has offered a solution fitting comfortably with one breath cycle cut sometimes with an in-gasp that can slot within the rhythmic space.
the ebb and flow
of the spirit
Living things are defined by their ability to eat, move, reproduce, excrete, sense, breathe, and grow. How many have to be taken off this list before I lose definition?
Is September always the cruellest month? The inexorable path plotted towards the vernal equinox. Hiruhirama (antipodean Jerusalem). Pine and midges pollinate the air. Breath-bruised now and at the hour of our death. Memory and desire. Dull roots of absence quickened with spring rain. Self-emptying breath. Throat strangled. Incoming wind choked off in an almost wordless stridor. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!”
evening shadows clutch
a handful of dust
Boneholders, meshed within flesh. Wonderless, breath balloons squirming unheard. Worm-worded. Hegemonies of absence once upon their time. Gasping and groaning, Maui wriggles away into stillness and silence.
once with words
Why was he looking up at the night sky?
In the frost-crisped night of central Taranaki, when light was evanescent at best, he foot-crunched through a paddock to exteriorise the dark that had been suffusing him.
What filled the night sky at that moment?
Just stars. So cold was the air that the darkness was clear and starlight was breath-held in its stillness. The Southern Cross was risen there. Night-dew christened his beard.
Was he seen?
None knew of his presence there let alone the nature or length of his existence.
What could he see?
Only a chill arc of stars, a rainbow of night, creating its own light out of nothing.
Why the tear?
Because he could see as he is seen.
Did this precipitate any change?
He was strengthened to endure all that is still to come.
Will he depict that night in words for others to see?
He will learn how to do without words.
at the end
of the end
Midnight mumbles with an ancient ache as you lower yourself into the movement not yours. The hour’s stillness lurches with the vibrations of the cottage’s contortions at each joint. The rise and fall of the floor against your weight pulls against the former cling of place.
Man, you are here to oscillate as the reed in the wind does! The familiar disappears — a brief candle lit against the sound and sway of what snuffs it out. Feel it — back and forth — your breath cradled in the wrack and roar of foot-falls against rising shadow — vertigo that does not lessen with a shake of your head. It is here now – the mind failure that shakes off the words that once made sense.
enfolds the roots