wax banks

second-best since Cantor

Category: unguessable


Excerpt from a manuscript in progress. –wa.

The ideal state, it seems to us, is sensory-imaginative immersion so total that every element of the experience comes to metaphorize every other — a borderless innerstate of total fluidity and mutability, surrounded and penetrated and haunted, absolute becoming-multiple. Being as we are, we most easily conceptualize such states in musical terms. Remember Bennie Maupin’s ‘Ensenada’ spreading out from pedal point as polytonal mist: intense bodily experience of stillness and slow movement. Remember the cruel carnal-cosmic ‘On your knees, boy’ from U2’s ‘Mysterious Ways,’ literate technosex as border-crossing, principled pain/pleasure. Remember Bernard Xolotl’s ‘Nearing the Gates of Eleusis,’ which establishes its minor colour and then denies return for seven minutes, circling spiritual-erotic yearning for release from the V7 like dervishes dancing, nearing the gates, secret innermost place… Remember those snaredrum 32nd notes racing beneath Jeff Tweedy’s despairing octave leap on the outro chorus of ‘Radio Cure,’ machine noises at the edges of vision like a migraine, like arms enfolding, distantly. Remember the camera pushing in on D’Angelo’s face as his listens to his band mount that astonishing crescendo to sexual-spiritual ecstasy and his rapturous smile shy then proud is the song’s true climax, true self hearing true self. Remember Burial’s ‘Kindred’ circling back to repeat after beatless break, that aching IV in the bass as warped voices multiply and maybe wanna rise, ‘Baby you can find the light,’ but dawn comes for this dream—

We think of experiences of conceptual hull-breach, doors thrown open and compartments flooding one another, every signifier another’s signified: radical polysemy. Nonpolynomial expansion of meaning. He licks his lips because he’s nervous to be naked (vulnerable, validated), he’s thinking of sex (desire, defilement, divinity), he’s thinking of food (family, fellowship), he’s thinking of God (ascension, assumption, apocalypse) — those ideas superpose and crosspollinate until every moment of the work belongs to every one. Think of this unmooring of/from meaning not as irresponsibility but as total responsibility: every possible imaginative relation is in hand, you are trusted with your every thought. No metaphoric link is forbidden or discouraged. Freest association. This is the environment of non-ordinary permissiveness which the term ‘fusion’ in its deepest sense can evoke.

This empowering, exhilarating boundarylessness characterizes mind-altering experiences of ‘psychedelic’ consciousness. It can bring terror, joy, serenity, longing, satisfaction, focused intensity, oceanic diffuseness, distortions or enhancements of perception, affirmation and obliteration of various self-narratives — but always a sense of being intensely alive. A more momentous present moment: more real precisely because more unreal, more surreal. The real world filled with all those other worlds, and no distinguishing between them.

When we speak of the ‘cosmic,’ this is what we mean: the sense, not of breadth or distance, but of multidimensionality.

We were at a party on Jones Beach or thereabouts one night with a bottle of bourbon in hand staring out at the water and things had grown complicated for what felt like it must be (better be) the last time, worst time; we craved resolution and felt intensely sad, angry, broken — sensed ourself to be in violation of principles perhaps we never held. We threw the bottle into the water and went to sleep in the car, maybe not right away. Looking back nearly 20 years later we don’t (as you might expect) ruefully recall the painfully abrading knot of good intentions and bad judgment and mixed emotions which bound us and others (each poisonously to all); it was hard and we were dumb but that’s as far as it went. Rather, we see in that moment an incredible complex potentiality, vast energies circulating. The desperation attached to the memory isn’t to do with hopelessness or choices cut off, but rather the chance (not taken) for absolute transformation. Angry, sad, broken, yes; but also comprehensively involved, able to see out to sea, able to touch inner organs flayed bare, bound up with other hearts, fending off knowledge and drowning in feeling. The sky was huge. It might’ve been summer or spring — what difference does it make?

Not cosmic, not hardly. But without question an experience of the irreducible interconnectedness of things, coloured by negative affect (then and in memory now) but lit from within. Longing, lust, lament. Love and loneliness, and a quietly violent confusion. Knowledge of pain. I fucking felt like everything.

The motif of ‘adventurous expectancy’ which runs through the present work is most intensely evoked, for us, when a purity (singularity) of sensation joins a complexity (multiplicity) of sense: algebra giving way to ecstasy, the great unwieldy mass of form made weightless in ecstatic flight to outer/innerspace. The utter simplicity of a single trembling note, sight of a high strange house on the hill, a pirouette, or the hour after the caffeine kicks in when hard problems feel easy but are known in their complexity — every aspect present. That’s what life is like, at best: every idea, every memory, flowing beneath this single-point awareness. All the contents of the imagination brought to the fore, everything in foreground, front-of-macromind.

The joining of this kaleidoscopic imagination with that of another person, desires in common (in communion), gives this imaginative experience its identifiably erotic dimension. That feeling of borders collapsing to points, points variegating to spaces. You and me, dimensions of one another. Mind and body amen.

Telling the truth is a love letter to everything imaginable.



(Epistemic status: some bullshit.)

SMITH: Wait, I’ve seen this. This is it, this is the end. Yes, you were laying right there, just like that, and I… I… I stand here, right here, I’m… I’m supposed to say something. I say… Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo.

Well, but what about everything else?

One thing you pick up on, as you get older, is that we don’t ever encounter monocausality In Real Life, i.e. outside of pure formal systems like ‘maths’ — yet it’s one of our fondest desires, one we constantly and monomaniacally pursue for much or most of our lives. (You might think of pathological fixation on fixed ‘identity’ in these terms.) Humans desperately wanna have a single explanation for things, to be able to make sense — even by force — of a world that we’re capable of sensing and grappling with, but incapable of encompassing except imaginatively, fictionally. ‘Theories of everything’ (like theism) are pure fantasy, and we damn well know it; we might someday answer ‘How is the universe?’ (I doubt it) but we’ll never answer ‘Why is the universe?’ partially for Gödel-reasons1 and partially because ‘Why?’ is an ill-posed question to begin with. ‘Why?’ is plaintive: though it resembles a request for information, it’s always a request for help.

Maybe I’m saying more about myself than I mean to, here; there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.

I mean, we’ll settle for any ol’ explanation if the alternative is the bottomless real. The proximate reason children’s archetypal endless ‘Why?’-regress is so frustrating and daunting for so many adults is that patience is limited, but there’s a deeper place: eventually you’re going to say, first, ‘I don’t know,’ and then more painfully ‘We don’t know,’ and eventually if things go badly/well ‘We can’t know.’ And that’s a hard thing to hear yourself say, not only to a kid. Saying ‘It’s hard to explain’ is a cop-out and every good sane parent has felt guilty about it, but it at least implies a comforting fiction of knowability. There’s an explanation, I just can’t say it. But the truth is in the regress.

Back behind every answer is another question, and then eventually we run out of universe, or breath.

Stupid people — politicians, for instance — complain about things ‘raising more questions than answers.’ The real question is why you’re willing to grandstand about epistemology sometimes but happily accept the limits of your knowledge at others; the answer to that one, at least, is pretty straightforward. We try not to think about the limits of our knowledge because we’re conscious of the limits of our tolerance for pain.

My point, here at least, is that we’d love not only ultimate reason but even just simple manageable relationships. And at the scale of human experience, if you’re doomed to think hard, there aren’t any. This is one reason why ‘social’ media have caused so much damage: they expose us constantly to streams of (usually dumb) information we simply can not turn into useful knowledge, then push coping strategies which cause us more problems (self-ghettoization (‘curation’), learned fragility (‘filtering’), addictive behaviours (‘likes’), etc.). Of course, this pathological mediasphere could only arise under a metastatic technocapitalist regime circulating triumphalist tech-libertarian/identitarian rhetoric about something mislabeled ‘freedom,’ which is one of the things the Boomers accepted as compensation after winning/losing the post-60s culture war…

Everything involving humans is complex, and the trick is that it remains complex no matter how deep into the weeds you go. It’s complexity all the way down, and the illusion of ‘simple rules giving rise to complex behaviours’ is a matter of perceptual filtering at the horizon of our pain-tolerance, i.e. not wanting to get bogged down in implementation details, e.g. Conway’s Game of Life seems less charming when you wonder how, exactly, neighbouring cells affect one another.

‘They just do.’ Yes, so I’ve heard, that’s what God is for.

This isn’t what it was supposed to be. That keeps happening.

  1. (a phrase I’m using slangily to mean ‘because, annoyingly, “why is the universe?” can only be answered with reference to outside-the-universe’) 

Wicked pack of cards: Plague.

Flat 750x 075 f pad 750x1000 f8f8f8 u1

All suspended, permission uncertain, no passage.

No one wants a plague diary from some bourgeois idiot. I am ‘inessential’ and not a ‘worker’ in the valorous sense.

The cards say what the monks say: you are in a moment of transformation. Choice of adverb: really. ‘Changely’ if you like. Here and thus you are, never could it’ve been otherwise. Get to it. Choose, act.

Out the window, though, an invisible cloud.

Airborne toxic event.

Plague of sedentation.

The shrinks say what the posters say: you’re always changing, every day’s a new one, make the healthy choice.

Your job without socializing. Your home without respite. Your friends without touch, city without neighbours, movement without aim, contact without exchange, tension without release.

No bodies to dance inside.

The music says what the bodies say: I love you, I miss you, I want to break free. (Of: me.)

Even music seems to’ve stopped.

Danse macabre by Michael Wolgemut

Motionless but not still.

Moving but not busy — not frantic.

Still but not quiet. Peaceful but not restful.

Making but not creating.

Hungry but not angry.

Acting but not working.

Needful but not grasping.

Talking but not connecting.

Reaching but not connecting.

Touching but not connecting.

Connecting but not touching.

Listening to the circle.

‘We are all monastics now,’ several said.

For various reasons that doesn’t appeal to me. For various reasons that appeals to me. On balance, I like the option of a bourbon et cetera.

The memory of all that
They can’t take that away from me

Motionless but not still, meaning sitting frantically — sitting but not sitting, war of self against self. What if now weren’t now? Suffering is resenting that here and thus we are: holding the world against the world instead of being (recognizing onself as) part of all of it, all of part of it. The World (XXI) isn’t a place or possession, not even a piece of knowledge; it’s recognition, acceptance, assumption. Taken up into the heaven of a trillion borderless souls.

Every dream arrested. Plague of atomization.

We’re not scaremongering
This is really happening

Well you can go to a monastery to hide, which works for a while, though They tend to find you when They want it badly enough, or when you do. And you can go to pray, sit, tend the garden, work, think, build, look closely. I suppose you might meet someone there who knows. Become someone even.

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper ‘I love you’
Birds singing in the sycamore tree

It’s not just old brick, is the thing. The space has to be impregnated somehow with intention. Stillness, not just motionlessness. Stillness is presence where motion can only be absent. Vee, delta-ess o’er delta-tee. While stillness is a skin that settles over you, brings insides and outsides in. Stillness is how time slows in the vein.

During plague I haven’t moved but haven’t felt still at all.

Having trouble finding now.

The building is made of this or thatever, but it becomes a monastery by the intention of the practitioners within it. The thing they are collectively maintaining, defense against fallenness, against what of the world takes from us, what of the world wants, devours, strips flesh, strips spirit. No souls, no spirits, these are ‘only’ metaphors, but imagine if there were, which is the point of the point: imagining makes the space sacred. Intend, exhaust, imbue.

And I look at those eyes
I look at those lonely eyes

And it comes from me to you

I once asked God for forgiveness (for something) in a cathedral in NYC and what I received was hysterical tears. I felt gratitude for what I took to be a gift, but I’ve just realized that I’d received the gift — the work was accomplished — the second I knelt and meant it.

The cathedral is what it is; as soon as we came into the nave I could feel the action of the place, and by the time we reached The Legend of St Eustace I was ready for something to happen.

Some pompous Fool said ‘The readiness is all.’ You make the magic circle by joining hands with someone who needs help. ‘It is true.’ I was told that amen means ‘it is true,’ which suddenly sounds a lot like Tell me about it, which is a nice thing to say to someone you love, including yourself. Kneeling there, feeling gratitude for tears, ready for someone to happen.

Heaven will prove to’ve been stillness, and it’s here, obscured by motionlessness. ‘A place where nothing ever happens,’ not quite. Where what’s up is really up, is what’s up. The circle turning brings you to wherever you’re going.

I’m going to drink some water, drive my wife to Target, and see what happens.

The heart says what the birds say:

Psychedelic lake painting

Wicked pack of cards: Enlightenment I suppose.

‘It’s all about the journey, not the destination.’

But then of course a journey is defined by its destination, no? Its telic nature is what separates it from ‘going out for a walk.’

Meanwhile an errand is specifically going-and-coming: defined not by travel but by effort and action, the thing you’re traveling for. At the end of the errand you return home, having been changed by whatever you did, even if it was just mailing a check (lightening your load) or picking up groceries (feeding your head).

I’m an American, San Juan born. What we value most about home is that it’s always there for you, never changing. ‘Home is where the heart is’ and the heart shouldn’t have to keep up with the times.

Returning home at the end of an errand you’re supposed feel welcomed and comforted by familiarity (shared root with ‘family,’ duh). But that’s another word for ‘sameness.’ Predictability.

The Fool’s Errand is precisely about change: recurrent transformation.

The happy part is you get to go again, the sad thing is you have to go again, the funny bit is that you might realize along the way that you’ve been home the whole time — by which I mean not ‘you are at home’ but rather home is what you are. One way of understanding the Errand, it seems to me, is the project of recognizing simultaneously your smallness and your vastness: how far out you extend, how ordinary that is, how little of you is you, how much of you is everywhere and vice interpenetratively versa, how long-term irrelevant your current destination (shared root with ‘destiny,’ duh) is.

Plus anyway where you think you’re going is never where you’re going, which (by the way) is why ‘storytelling with dice’ isn’t an oxymoron.

‘By the way’ is an interesting little phrase. Means something like ‘just off the road,’ doesn’t it.

It testifies to, er, something or other that I didn’t understand what I suspect might be the central insight of the ‘wicked pack of cards’ essays — the Fool’s Errand doesn’t get you anywhere — until I was nearly finished with the series. (I’m still nearly finished, may remain so for years.) Indeed for much of these essays’ running time I’ve been under the opposite delusion, that the inquiry/engagement which the Errand symbolizes (is?) is a noisy line pointing toward…well, Enlightenment I suppose. Control, wisdom, mastery, emptiness, fullness, whatever.

I’ve long pronounced that ‘life is all middle’ and am slowly beginning to believe it. But to realize that this — meaning both (1) this project of turning playing cards into an allegorical narrative about psychotropism and nonseparateness and (2) the content of the narrative itself — is itself only middle, an endless sequence of intermediate stages, has been unexpectedly jarring. The fiction of, say, ‘mindfulness’ as a shortcut or even just a direct route to happiness, an end run around the suffering which human minds continually cogenerate, is so attractive — even though (even fleeting) mindful experience directly suggests the opposite! The Errand, which among other things allegorizes1 devotional/meditative practice, has something of a slingshot ending, as the Fool…

…begin[s] to move towards a goal which has been anticipated from the beginning. But they move out of frame, out of the end of the book, and the story closes as though before its proper ending… Though unexpecting readers might feel that the consequent affect is one of frustrating truncation, a discomfort at not being told what should be told for proper closure, a true slingshot ending should persuade them that a choice of conclusions has indeed been indicated –- and that their task (or joy) is to plunge head foremost towards a finish they will be glad to sanction. (Clute, SFE3)

We should name the upsetting structural irony at work here: the Fool’s joyful task, the eagerly anticipated goal, is to undertake a version of the same errand just ‘completed.’ You could read this recurrence as tragic or comic, though we should resist flight to genre-reduction here. Crucially, he’s now a different Fool. You can’t step in the same river twice, etc. The Errand — any errand — is the opportunity for, not the content of, a deep transformation.

Putting some of this another way: it’s an error to think that those two roads diverging in a wood made any more or less difference than the million others you didn’t write a poem about.2

‘I’ve long pronounced…and am slowly beginning to believe it.’ Ugh what a tiresome bore I am. But that too is a potentially useful irony, a chance at productive noticing: the Errand involves coming to understanding, changing your mind to accommodate a changing world, and that process is neither linear nor equal-tempered. When I was an undergrad, Professor Rota (RIP) taught our Heidegger class about the ‘hermeneutic circle,’ a cyclical movement of thought between class and instance, illustration and codification, abstraction and example — a concept neatly illustrated by the encounter/introspection/integration dialectic of the Fool’s Errand. This is healthy inner life per se: meeting the world on its terms, noticing and understanding our response (i.e. meeting ourself on its own terms), and integrating outer and inner circumstances into, if not a coherent idea exactly, then at least a view of things less dependent on inviolable borders between us and else, subject and object, chance and choice.

(Magic and divination can be thought of as embodied theory of the relationship between will and chance, and of our willed blindness toward that relationship. If the uncomfortable central truth of poker is that luck is how you live with chance, we’re free to identify that as a magical — which is maybe partly to say ‘probabilistic’? — insight. The world makes/is chance, but you make luck, and if one is eventual and one perceptual, they’re equally ‘real.’)

One measures a circle, beginning anywhere. And crucially deciding for oneself where to stop.

None of this is sophisticated. You’d have to be ‘educated stupid,’ in the words of Gene Ray, to think that’s an indicator of its value.

‘Don’t get drunk and slam the door, that’s no way to end this…’


  1. (‘can be said to allegorize’ or ‘means, roughly, in this private interpretive-story we’re telling,’ you get the idea I hope) 
  2. yes yes, the poem’s more complicated than its popular representation, don’t worry about it 

Sickness unto depth.

(Just tiptoeing through my Drafts folder, afraid of what I’ll find, and I’ve got a draft consisting solely of this post title. I’ve done worse. –wa.)

New here?

Hi there.


  • concussion
  • loss of limb
  • cognitive impairment
  • blinding rage
  • crippling terror
  • a bad limp
  • loss of fighting spirit
  • ptsd
  • turn into a magical dog, magically
  • fall down and break all your stuff
  • forget your name
  • forget your quest
  • capgrass syndrome
  • religious visions
  • fall into the nearest deep hole
  • spontaneous combustion (extremely local)
  • begin to understand you’ve made some mistakes
  • cancer (unrelated but obvsly very bad)

Repost: An adventure.

from 2012. no one’s idea of a banner year. –w.

we had an adventure today

oh really what happened

well we went out for sushi

damn i hate sushi

you don’t travel enough. afterward

what do you mean i don’t travel enough

afterward we were driving back

from where

the valley

shit you drove to the valley just for sushi, there’s that great place down on fifth and balencia



jose’s sushi/tatoo parlor, seriously


so anyway afterward we were driving back

how’d you go

the mclaren


nah it’s a bye week

oh shit yeah

like i was saying for god’s sake driving back and kimiko was driving and we HIT this guy


no he was ok and everything


the cops came and he left in an ambulance. we didn’t hit him hard

with your car you didn’t hit him hard

i don’t think he had broken bones

were you going like five miles an hour

we just didn’t hit him hard

or like SIX


how do you hit someone softly with a car

can i finish

wait is this why you didn’t RETURN my CALLS

yeah that’s what i’m trying to tell you, we clipped this guy and i was holding my phone with the window open and kimiko like SLAMMED on the brakes and we skidded

oh you lost your phone

see it nailed kimiko on the head THEN i lost it so i had to drive the rest of the way


because SHE got a concussion out of the deal

oh that’s why she didn’t return my calls either

no i think that has more to do with not liking you


she says you’re racist about asians

Free ideas.

Take these and run with them!

  • Scientists and engineers use complex language in precise ways, and your sloppy repurposing of that language damages understanding, so don’t do that.
  • Your tastes aren’t interesting in themselves, so unless you have something beautiful to say about the world using your tastes (you probably don’t), stop making a big deal about them.
  • Stop giving advice on your blog.
  • Don’t describe yourself as talented. Even if it’s true, by the time you realize you’re talented, you’re too far along to still be talking about your talent.
  • Alcohol is poison, alcohol consumption is an unsustainable pleasure, and you don’t need it to have a good time. Build as much of your social life now around being drug-free as you’re able; later on you’ll have no choice.
  • Root for your local sports team, not whatever team is hot right now. Jumping on the winners’ bandwagon is like skipping to the last page of a story.
  • Judge people’s choices, not their circumstances.
  • Listen to strangers, especially older ones.
  • Go to the theater. Go to the library.
  • Don’t describe kids as ‘stupid’; unlike you, they haven’t yet had a chance to choose to be mean and ignorant.
  • Don’t marry your high-school sweetheart without seeing other people first. But don’t lose touch either.
  • Choose a rugged, ugly glasses case over a fashionable, flimsy one.
  • If you buy sweets, you’ll eat sweets. Fill your house with healthy snacks.
  • Keep a journal — even if it’s nothing more complicated than ‘Grocery shopping w/Bill; 2hrs Game of Thrones,’ you’ll learn something about how you live your life. Don’t resist revelation.
  • Bike riding is a skill. Get a decent bike, take good care of it, learn to ride it skillfully.
  • Find an enjoyable core strength workout and stick with it.
  • Watch Deadwood.
  • Read Aegypt.
  • Buy my books.

Here’s how amazingly groovy I am, Reader(s): I didn’t include a hyperlink in that last line, did you notice? On account of I wanted this to be classy like.

we three kings

  1. Thrice-Born Lorrev is known (i.e. rumoured) to have died on two separate occasions, both times riding his favourite horse in battle against the black-veined Rowat Supplicants during one of their periodic millenarian uprisings. He wears only pale blue, and covers his shimmering vedantium armour with flowing blue silks cut from a bolt his mother (Thrice-Damned Krisseva) stole from a Gheltish monastery at the height of her glory seventy years ago. Lorrev’s trusted advisors are a circle of twelve sentient ravens. He abhors the new moon, divination, games of chance, and travel beyond the boundaries of the capital district, which — alas — contains the great temple of Rowat, lately showing signs of unrest.

  2. Aodhra the Devil is unable to sit still for more than a few moments within the bounds of the royal keep, and so avoids the endless council meetings and hearings which the death of his father, King Quehlor, foisted upon him. Aodhra is haunted by hallucinations of his parents performing unspeakable acts, which he misunderstands as memory — he is convinced that he alone knows their true nature and must tell no one lest the kindgom fall into turmoil. Only by retiring to the royal greenhouse, with its rows of wickedly beautiful red lotus (a thaumatic anhallucinogen), does Aodhra find mental respite. This week he completed work on the first volume of a rigorously logical prophetic work which he intends to publish anonymously for unguessable reasons.

  3. Since it appeared a fortnight ago, Krayd IV conceals his newborn second head beneath a topologically improbable assortment of hoods, shawls, cravats, and grand turbans. It speaks to him of a second world which contains ours, accessible through cracked mirrors and half-open doors to lightless hallways. It is a terrifically insightful judge of character, but dismisses Krayd’s questions about social matters, insisting that ‘true light’ is only visible from a certain vantage in the second world. Krayd and his consiglieri Alvo Gretzz have worked out a way to discuss a solution to the problem of the head in writing without involving the head itself, and Alvo presently leans toward the pragmatic solution of a royal marriage, as his early priestly training leads him to believe that (speaking strictly) Krayd is presently living in sin. No explanation for the head’s appearance is being sought; Krayd is a ruthless pragmatist. The head is able to affect the movements of the king’s left middle finger only. It grows restless. This is not its home.