Spring Speaks Truth #2 – Like a Weapon Shining in the Sun

July 17, 2011

It is an absurd thing to admit, but I grow anxious after a few months without producing anything tangible that I will be forgotten, or at least consigned to the dustbin of irrelevant memory. I have not released new writing since I posted The Mountain and I Contemplate One Another in Mutual Silence here over three months ago, I have not performed in seven months, and if there’s anything other than writing or performing that I do that would be of note to the world at large, I’m not certain what it is. That anxiety can be partially ameliorated by the release of Spring Speaks Truth #2 by Autonomy Press.

Very capably designed by Ogo Eion, I think this volume looks beautiful, and it’s yours for just a few dollars.

However, you will forgive me my need to account for my lack of new writing and performance works in recent months. I understand perfectly well that no one is distressed or anxious whatsoever by my reduced output, but of course, that’s precisely the problem: no one cares, and I want to be loved. In general, I believe this slower pace reflects a greater substance and intensity of work.

It is unlikely that I will perform whatsoever all year, but I have written a performance called The Blind Man in the Mountain, featuring a few thousand words of dialogue, that I am working on when the opportunity presents itself with a girl I am terribly sweet on. I say when the opportunity presents itself because we are separated by hundreds of miles at the moment, but when I make my way down to Oakland this fall, we should be able to work in earnest, and I imagine that the piece could be brought to life sometime at the beginning of 2012. The performance is a sort of integrated work of speaking, chanting, rhythmic breathing, dancing, and percussion. From the text:

“Perhaps my words are like a knife, a weapon, cutting skin and breaking bone, drawing blood and stopping breath. They pierce the world’s heart, and throb with it, the great quivering heart at the center of all things that is afflicted with all the terrible joy and great agony of experiencing all things simultaneously. I am within this heart, I am of it. I feel my arms reaching up through the soil to twist into the trunks of trees, even as my hands cast lightning bolts down from the sky to split my arms in two. The hand strikes its body. God fights itself. I can feel all of this happening.”

In addition, I am toiling away on a piece of writing that is tentatively titled God Is the One-Eyed Monster Whose Many Hands Strike in All Directions. I will offer only the very simple explanation that this piece is an attempt to make a map of my recent travels and turn it into a series of magical symbols which will liberate the capacity for perception and action from the confines of the pain and anxiety that seems to pervade so much experience, so that it can become a new and effective thing, like a weapon shining in the sun. I’m a big believer in art as magic, even if I’m a bit less credulous of magic in a more general sense. That is to say that I believe the impulse to create art and do magic are integrally related in the evolutionary history of our species. And also, I find art that is not an attempt to do magic, however desperately quixotic and futile that attempt may be, to be somewhat lacking. This piece will feature a great deal of graphic design and even audio recordings.

“My friends, with the greatest love and the most tender of affection, I wish to do you harm. Not out of malice, but as a means of liberation. I think we must all bleed together, to wield a knife that cuts us free from the golden anguish that forces its way through our mouths and contorts our faces and twists our hands and fingers according to its will. I would like to cut you with my knife, which is made out of words.”

Finally, and on a less crazy note, there is my ongoing program of research and writing which derives from fields such as anthropology, animal behavior, biology, and cognitive science. The putative output of all this research and writing will be a long paper, of which there is presently some 5,000 words, called The Listless Gaze of the Idly Chewing: The Effects of Domestication on Humans and Other Animals. This is part of my broader ongoing efforts to understand the destructive elements of human behavior in biological terms. I am disinterested in political ideologies because they always start with what are ultimately, when given a moment’s consideration, utter abstractions: systems are analyzed, attacked, advocated. But we are never informed of where the basic impulses to create these systems comes from and what alternative ways these impulses might play out in human behavior. Malevolent, disembodied entities like ‘capitalism’ or ‘patriarchy’ or ‘industrialism’, apparently possessed of a sentience of their own and intent on finding human hosts to invade and bend to their evil wills, roam the land, imposing themselves on populations and doing their harm. My interest is in finding the basic biological phenomena that underly behavior, evolved under specific ecological conditions, in the context of specific social structures, and seeing how it ultimately has extended into the varied human activities we witness around us, from the systematic persecution of political enemies by those in power to group BDSM parties. In so doing, the agenda is to take human action and experience out of the realm of utter abstraction, to which it has largely been relegated by the mainstream of disciplines like psychology, anthropology, and sociology, and make it part of the study of the natural world. This has been the focus of a relatively small but increasingly undeniably relevant group of scientists in fields like psycholinguistics, neurobiology, and evolutionary psychology. I suppose what distinguishes me somewhat from others with the same focus is a persistent orientation toward applying the research to understanding and perhaps addressing pathological and destructive behavior on the part of our civilization. This work has become a primary and consuming focus, and I imagine it will occupy a great deal of the foreseeable future of my life.

I’m not always sure where this work will go; if, for instance, photocopied zines and internet posts are the best venues for it, and if I really have any options for greater exposure. Sometimes I think, for instance, that I should call my piece, rather than The Listless Gaze of the Idly Chewing, something like Neoteny, Behavioral Plasticity, Human Evolution, and Animal Domestication: Four Interrelated Biological Phenomena. Maybe I could get research grants, although the foundations dishing out research grants to people who barely got out of high school are probably few and far between. Maybe I should go to college; people sometimes tell me my academic inquiries would be taken seriously there, but I am always skeptical. Maybe I should write to a major book publisher and tell them they ought to publish my writing, despite that I have no credentials and am totally unestablished in the publishing world. I don’t know.

In any case, my embarrassment at not having produced anything has conceded to an embarrassment at being able to write so very much about not having produced anything, so I will go now.

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