April 23, 2015

Anything is possible, but not everything.


[This text was written for the performance One Thing Leads To Another by Emma Murray.]

Anything is possible, but not everything. Thinking you know exactly what is going to happen next is the easiest way to be wrong. Of all the things that are possible, among which we might even include many things that are relatively impossible, rather few are likely. It is possible that the next sentence in this text will be about dinosaurs, while it is likely that it will not. It is possible that human beings will become extinct much sooner than was previously thought.

Of the things that are possible, it is difficult to arrive at a percentage that might be generally understood to be desirable. If human beings were to become extinct, it might be said, from differing perspectives, to be both desirable and undesirable. After you, as an individual, are gone, why would you exactly care what does or doesn’t happen? But it is possible that you do. Or at least a part of you does. What might be the best way to understand this particular part?

Desire can be understood in terms of sex, but it can also be understood in terms of everything else. For example, the desire to be alive, or to continue living. The desire for the impossible, far from being a contradiction in terms, is in fact extremely common. Things that I desire that I am frequently, or at least implicitly, told are impossible: an end to war, an end to capitalism, powerful people treating those they have power over with enormous kindness and generosity, etc. But, of course, all of these things are essentially as possible as anything else. I see no proof otherwise.

It is possible that one thing causes another, but it is equally possible that it does not, or that we have the cause wrong. However, whether the cause is clear, unclear, or misleading, the desire to find and know the cause for any given thing is not difficult to understand. Every moment is a mystery waiting to be solved. Or a pleasure screaming to remain unsolved. A pleasure screaming to remain lost. Understanding everything completely and perfectly is the death of all pleasure. Fortunately this is impossible, and there is also of course great pleasure in learning, in coming to understand something. As every conspiracy lover knows all too well, almost everything happens for a reason, but then, every now and again, something beautiful happens for no reason at all.


April 12, 2015

Unit of Measurement


We hate the government
the government represents us
we hate the government that represents us
the government doesn’t represent us
it represents corporate interests
corporate interests that give them money
money they use to get us to vote for them
we don’t vote for them
but someone does
with thirty percent of the vote
you can have a majority
the majority never says to itself:
I feel inferior because I’m only
worth thirty percent
it says: I used strategy and guile
to flip my thirty percent
into absolute power
perhaps every vote feels superior to the vote
sitting next to it, glancing over,
thinking: let me handle this
I know what I’m doing
or perhaps not

Our vote represents us
we hate our vote, our choices
we hate the choices that represent us
a vote is a unit of measurement
but the hatred we feel for the government
cannot be measured
if you want to understand the present you
have to read history
if you want to understand history you
must understand human nature
human nature is malleable
it is formed by the society and
culture that surrounds it
perhaps not entirely
our history: we came here, said it was ours
but it wasn’t ours
there is enough for everyone if you’re willing to share
if you use only the small part that you actually need
they say the government is ours but it’s not ours
it’s against us, but that
doesn’t mean we’re not the same
the problem of government is a problem we all share

I know someone will tell me I shouldn’t
use the word hatred in this poem
that hatred is unproductive
but we do hate the government, I think,
how they reshape our world in their image
I know someone will tell me
I shouldn’t be so simplistic or didactic
but perhaps all I’m trying to say
is that the simple things are complex
and the complex things are as simple
as poison


April 1, 2015

Two blank pages.


Sometimes, when my notebook is almost full but not quite – the notebook I carry around in case I have a thought I want to write down, or when I’m working on a book or article – when this notebook is almost full but there are still five or ten empty pages left, I feel suddenly that I need a new notebook, a completely empty one. I feel this moment is almost the entire story of my life, always wanting a blank slate, to start again, to forget all the pages I have already written before I can even consider writing new ones, almost like a curse. The pages I have left empty over the years, always just a few at a time, if they were all put together could make up several new empty notebooks, but for me it never seems to work that way. I am writing this now because in this notebook I’m currently writing in there are only two blank pages left, and I want to fill them so I can then get a new notebook. I have already filled one page (my handwriting is large and clumsy and I only use every other line to make room for notes) and am now six lines into the second blank page. Why do I always want to start again? What do I hope will happen next time that hasn’t happened all the times before? Does this ‘wanting to start again’ make me a better artist or a worse one, and if I were to somehow leave it behind what would I actually be moving towards? I almost never look back over old notebooks, much like I so rarely think back over my life so far. But here near the bottom of the second, no longer blank page, I feel the way I almost always feel during endings: I don’t really want to deal with them so instead, while still asking myself questions, I just sort of throw them away.