Desire entering darkness as one enters an ocean
Not to drown but to swim.
I lift my weak arms out of the waves
In a first, hesitant stroke.
(The water is warm and I can almost see stars…)
A friend once said to me that biblically, the earth comes to be in reversing the scientifically supposed Big Bang. Moses begins his creation story not with the shock and awe of a God Almighty explosion – it begins quietly with the earth formless and empty, darkness on the face of the deep and Spirit moving silently above waters.
Creation is a gathering together.
Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bush, Rice, Friedmans (Milton and Tom both) – they were all wrong. Instead of staging a Beginning, (fools they), they were staging an End – no, not even that –
I stroke on.
Let us suppose an artist, a poet, composing a great poem in memory and transmitting it orally. He tells his story to others; his matter is visionary. He sees what others caught up in a developing maelstrom with signs of approaching darkness do not see. He imparts his bright vision to them, each taking into memory and passing on what lodges there. Perhaps his poem returns to him embellished and he recrafts it to go again. The process is organic; the people are the authors or not of immortality.
I stroke on…
The internet is something like this, as close to oral transmission as we have ever been, save that now we do not rely on our memory but on the machine. And remember it does. We write and it flows, but it flows presently, to our dismay, into a memory vault beyond our choosing, beyond (seemingly) our will to change or obliterate, to be used for purposes we suspect are not benign.
Clouds begin to obscure the stars;
I stroke on….
Memory is now inside the machine.All the libraries, all the books, all the compositions – stored in a black building somewhere in Utah. Or so they tell us. Will there be some day a great fire, as there was in Alexandria centuries past, so that all of this stored digitation goes up in flames? Shall we be forced back to our roots, back to our underexercized muscles of memory?
The clouds seem hazy.
I stroke on….
John the Theologian said that in the beginning was the word (logos). And that same word became flesh. Socrates in Plato’s Dialogues would compare himself to a midwife, eliciting from willing or unwilling participants (mostly the latter) a birthing he often described unceremoniously as a windegg. The prelude to enlightenment (and it was always a prelude) was for him to know that one did not know.
There is one darkness
That is the darkness of not knowing;
There is another darkness,
The darkness of knowing that one does not know.
I stroke on……
These are the moments that, (creationally speaking,) are the beginnings of beginning. Our unease tells us we are here. We are the peoples of the world in common anxiety facing the knowledge that our very memories have been extracted and stored and may even become inaccessible should the powers that be (never capitalize those words!) decide it is in their interests to do so.
And darkness was upon the face of the deep.
Can I stroke on?
Here is the promise of creation that John the Theologian in his wisdom saw: the word became flesh and lived among us. Take that sentence to be poetry describing spirit and see it as transformative defiance of chaos. So long as we have breath (spirit) we have speech (logos) and no, sorry, guys, money is not speech.
From our memories we take these words
These words which have taken their abode
We dare to use these words in new ways
And we say: they are our flesh and blood –
WE STROKE ON!