Dale M Houstman
Swans of Beaten Linen: Light Reflections
“People lie in the sun not because they worship it – for they are healthy animals, and only wish the sun to worship them.” —Keith Tinder, The Fair Inconstant
And light’s sole occupation?: To elevate sight to the realm of possibility. The side benefits are, in the main, metaphysical extensions of this release into chance ( an arena of accidents), and are dependent upon subtle modulations in men’s ambitions. To “see” may be sufficient, maybe even the most difficult attainment: consideration, conjecture, and all the more limpid or less livid catalogues of philosophy are secondary: even crude reminiscences of some bloated existence, whose body will not withstand the scribbles and tattoos of explicating sentiment.
Still, we do live in these winding tributaries, these cold capillaries, these derivatives of the actions we might praise so highly and (in the process of praising) lose beneath ornamentation, nostalgia, endless machinations of religion and science. It is always beyond us, this simple performance, and for that we should be grateful.
If much is made of light, it is because light reveals all without comment. It is ultimately “hip,” blithe, and cool to our conjectures. Certainly, there exist sentimental correspondences in the sunrise, in the dying light, in the ways in which light sinks into the surface of a person’s illness and kneels. But these remain characteristics more of the human mind, as symptoms of a diseased appropriation of nature and the lure of new forms of necrophilia. Light itself is so disinterested in its revelations and creations that we are reminded of a new height of aristocratic disengagement, so pure and terrifying (because it is an extreme socio-pathic coolness) that we are forced to bear light as the final ecology of horror – light’s clinical intrusions, its distant courses, are finally too reminiscent of this century’s most scientific “enthusiams.” light can reveal all because it is hardened against emotion. At its brightest, light remains faraway, and untouched.
And just as a flayed prisoner, or the victim of kidnap, will pause to invest the torturer with several qualities of common humanity in an attempt to comprehend the event within a social context frame they have given their lives up to, so we drape these works of light in pathos. exultation, and the like, because we wish the light to love us, as if we were somehow of its family. Light is alone—singularly—and yet feels multitudinous, while we are multitudinous and yet feel alone and singular. From this we might conjecture that, in some ancient and mysterious way, light and man have exchanged consciousnesses, much to the glorification of light and the demerit of mankind.
Light is it own best confidante, and sexual double. We are envious of its easy egotism, we admire its royalist postures, and we are disgusted only by what it reveals to us. Most of all though, we are simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the manner in which light makes love to itself in the open like any crude beast, and yet retains a rational detachment purer than Apollo.
When absolutely nothing can be freely imagined,
patience becomes everything.
Snow on a faded red curtain recalls to me
a failing industry in a country’s interior.
The secret history of the Sentimental is an umbrella in the rubble.
Today, and quite by accident, I discovered that no mechanism –
no matter how finely engineered – will turn a wolf into a nightingale.
No politician can play even one decent round of Philosopher’s Tears.
Even the laziest chicken doesn’t have the time to be frisked.
Even a tired tiger gets the first glass of wine.
The logic of the trout will never pay all the debts of the river.
Those empty spaces between trees? More trees.
Toss a stone at a poet’s head to elicit a
mild fluorescence. My favorite flashlight.
Sleep is a dissident colony which I travel across to strike up
a shallow conversation with the man in front of me.
There is even a darkness which stinks of opinion.
There exists a certain type of luxury even in poverty, but no train stations.
Injured anarchists should strive to own sleds.
Big speeches fill little graveyards.
An orange is that dress which a symphony imagines wearing.
Poverty is a charity magnet, and exists
to provide employment for those of lazy virtue.
You can devour any door simply by opening it.
Strangeness is a labor-intensive delight,
so I am never unemployed, only unpaid.
Am I hungry? Ask my dog.
Bamboo is just a ghost yawning.
The church piano an exhausted coral elephant.
Any ladder looks sincere leaning against a drowned hospital.
Reading a good book, and immediately forgetting it
forms one of my sharpest pleasures.
I have noticed that some self-liberated persons construct tombs
in which doorbells have been installed, because they not only wish
to ignore visitors, but also to let them know they are being ignored.
Rain will not readily agree to be a passenger.
Friendship is an apron constructed from a single rotten acorn.
Down my street there lives a woman who likes to claim she is “like the grass”. It is true; she represents a natural form of drainage.
from “The Rose Jacket Almanacs of The Louche Monk”