In Darkness

untitledTake the following as a stream of thought, no more –

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 –

an end.

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
With us.
We dare to use these words in new ways
And we say:  they are our flesh and blood –


11 responses to “In Darkness

  1. Very much enjoyed experiencing your words, juliania. Stroke,glide,stroke,glide,stroke glide….rhythms through chaos and we pattern our lives.

  2. the internet is the modern oral tradition; very interesting understanding, juliania, as is your almost-surmise that conflagrations of the storage facility in bluffdale might eradicate all the stories. that needs some thought, as would any of the internet kill switches, site preferences aided by paying for access, or any of the various draconian copyright plans afoot (think tpp, sopa, etc.)

    words becoming flesh: as a metaphor, i can almost envision there’s some truth in there, even if i saw ‘spirit’ instead, as in: you can’t kill an idea, you can’t kill the truth, and the truth will always out.

    it’s just one fine piece, juliania, and i hope you’ll publish it at my.fdl. i can walk you through formatting the poetry. it’s so simple (at least the easiest way) that i’m surprised i’d forgotten it since your last piece (blush).

    i liked the little glimmer of gray in the graphic, sort of hinted at what may have provoked a desire to Light the Darkness, Darkness.

    oh, and could you say more about: ‘Our unease tells us we are here.’ do you mean ‘here’ as the beginning of another beginning’, then?

    ha! my chrome can play videos! i hope it’s okay to bring this, but every time i type ‘darkness, darkness’, i hear it, even though the darkness acts as succor. but even that has its place, i think. one of the youngbloods’ best, imo:

  3. thanks very much, this is thought provoking and beautifully written.

  4. Wow, thank you guys. Since the piece was so internally reflective, I really didn’t mind if there were not a lot of comments. I was very much influenced in the composing of it by Yves’s thoughtful essay a few days back, ‘Is there a Disturbance in the Force?” I think it is called.

    nonquixote, the swim motif comes from my own early experiences – I used to swim a mile after school, in the dark, backstroke, in a NZ pool bordering the ocean that uses seawater – 17 lengths make up a mile so it’s a long stretch each way. But as I was composing, ‘keystroke’ kept intruding itself, so that motif crept in as well. (Always good to have a secondary theme, musically speaking.)

  5. Indeed, wendye, just starting to work out the power of memory in early orally based cultures, with some tribes even today not wanting to have their language written down, would be an entire essay, wouldn’t it? Neither Socrates nor Jesus wrote; their disciples did. And something I’ve always felt about ‘The Republic’ is that it is a memory test, with the participants falling by the wayside as they fail to keep up, until only Glaucon, Plato’s brother is left at the very end. And who could keep up? I’ve read it lots of times and yet I couldn’t give you many of the twists and turns all the way through.

    You are very kind to suggest the Big Place, FDL – something to aspire to but just knowing how difficult it was for me to come here – maybe a bridge too far for now. (I’d better like if they would come here!)

    And bless you, mafr, as well – coming from such a fine musician those are words I shall treasure!

    By all means, wendye, bring such lovely things! And yes, ‘we are here’ is to me the beginning of the beginning – here’s again the essay on Egypt I already linked at fdl:

    ‘Beyond the Voice of Battle in Egypt’

    These reflections take a different form everywhere we find them, responding to the matter at hand, and yet they are remarkably in harmony with one another, like mafr’s lovely guitar offerings.

    My kids used to plunk out the theme from ‘The Firebird’ on a very old out of tune donated piano we had.


  6. Reading back to your question, wendye, you picked up on a segment of the piece that I left out but had been considering part of the original. That is, ‘unease’ minded me of the stage in childbearing between early and late labor, called the transition – folk at the beginning of an allergic reaction experience this as well. It’s an anxiety phase, the feeling that something untoward is about to happen.

  7. i do understand that analogy, ww, and had been ruminating that it also meant that discomfort signalled that we are alive, feeling, sensing beings, as well. and knowing part of the writing as to our present atmospherics that helped birth this post…those intangibles alone said ‘transitional’ to you.

    for me, this is another period of waiting, waiting, waiting…as though something may break to alleviate the sense that much is wrong, but so few know where the ‘blame’ lies, and thus are many people rather incoherent and diffuse in their thinking and speaking, whether in print, online, or among their various community and social doin’s. i used this once for a post just before those pesky kids headed to zucotti park, and likely will use it again soon.

    the lyrics, the tone…say so much. close your eyes…

    Oh, and i invited folks over yonder to come and read your lovely and timely piece.

  8. realitychecker1

    All I will say, my darling juliania, is that things like this are why we keep you around. ;-) Love and hugs and thankful appreciation to you. A lovely and inspirational effort. And so needed right now, when the darkness has become so abundant. Better to see a beginning than an ending.

  9. Heh, I took that comment with me to warm the soul (and it did) rc, on another of my sorties out into the real world – yikes, the clouds which used to be your run of the mill thunderheads all decided to go sickleshaped up top (and they’re doing that today as well.) Not sure what that portends, but I’m hoping very much not the Grim Reaper. ‘Atmospherics’ is another very pregnant term these days, wendye, thanks very much.

    Hereabouts we’ve had so far three days of that with a high right over us, the strange huge clouds coming down and at least obscuring the hot sun but pressing down – angry rumbles and then the zigzagged blackness rushes off somewhere like Albuquerque and angrily dumps hail on one or two city blocks, floods a few streets, and departs.

    But glancing aside the homeward bus I saw a lone coyote thinking himself disappeared in the chamisa. Ah no, boyo; I SAW you!

  10. It came to me last night that this original post is a reflection on where we are, where we have been, and where we are going. I hope that it has been present to the reader as an expression of (as my wise teacher once said nearly forty years ago) “all the courage, tact, and humility I can muster.”

    Thank you for participating in the journey with me. We still have a long way to go.

  11. And as an important footnotel: an essay my teacher wrote back then reminds me that a comment I made above is not entirely correct. His essay was titled “Two Writings in the Sand” and it treats of both Socrates and Jesus, who did write, in two important incidents.

    For Socrates, it was in the agora at Athens, and in the dialogue ‘Meno’ he wrote a geometrical figure as he demonstrated to his participants in dialogue that even a slaveboy has the command of his intellect sufficient to reason to a correct mathematical conclusion.

    For Jesus, it was in the Temple in Jerusalem, and John tells us he wrote twice in the sand before replying to the accusers of the woman taken in

    As footnotes occasionally do, hopefully this one will lead us on.

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