Guest Feature (MDO)

Some years ago (perhaps late 2012 or early 2013) I wrote my older brother Michael a letter requesting a particular response. My prompt to him was simple: “Extinction.”


 

EXTINCTION IS EXTINCT

Our perpetually attentive society is in fact just the opposite. This ironic ignorance was born of the desire to know everything at once. Until now almost no person realized what a miserable fate access to all knowledge would be (though a collective malaise has existed since initial forays into universal accessibility to man’s aggregated history and output).

Recently, however, the awful practice of uninformed criticism of all things has come into favor among those fresh out of the educational mills of the modern western world. As such; it was only a matter of time until someone attacked our society’s newly formed habit to store away (multiple copies) everything anyone does or says. Unlike other criticisms by bright-eyed ‘scholars’ this one holds water – it is, in fact, watertight. So vile is our culture’s habit – so vile and viral, that it seems certain to infect all persons on the globe before the decade is out. Long gone are the days of a gentle wind passing unnoticed in a calm valley. No more is the time when a child’s first steps are recorded only in the memory of her parents. All things can be known to all people. And endless and frantic dash for all information has begun.

The future’s past will have no secrets. Extinction is extinct.

fam’ ill-ease, families, field notes (04/28/2017)

Grady’s birthday. With quite the gift to me, actually- phone call earlier. Was really nice. Finding myself now in an Art Space. Warsaw gallery (?) on campus. That prickly person-y perturbed silence of imperceptible voices; speech bouncing off of skull-cracking flatness. It’s a calming type of roar, ebbing and dissolving into/out of loudness like waves. It’s the senior art show & that is pretty cool – Juliette’s work has been a big part of her life lately & it’s so nice to see the completed work, her smiling about it, people admiring it. This space is certainly occupied in the verbal sense. Also adding to auditory anomaly and attention is the tapping-off to my right a little art exhibit (?) where you turn your shoes into tap-dancing shoes. There are instructions, straps w/individual metal plates on them. The smaller one the size of a quarter, the larger the size of a silver dollar or a bit larger – and a space for dancing. Dancing space is perhaps 15 by 20 feet (12 by 15?) with purple/pink sheer drapes above & on sides. One side is against wall. Opposite wall is a projector, throwing white shadow-fodder onto the wall. Just in writing this 2 parties of ppl have entered & left. NO way to keep up (as a written description) w their movements.

Taps like glass, stalagtites, dripping and ploppingploppingplopping but not shattering, one of her laces is undone–

Lots of grimaces here. Yknow, that smile that white people have when they see you. It’s posturing, not unlike how students briefly sit up straight when a principal or authority figure enters – the erector muscles in the eager & concerned backs, holding @ attention out of obligation, but not for one minute longer – act in tandem w the muscles of the face in these separate circumstances. The lips tighten, mouth burps upward into an almost-wannabe grin (those w/dimples will falsely proclaim them) – sometimes the eyebrows go up. Mine do, at least.

field notes (04/26/2017)

Cold again. Cars pass outside kicking up rain-sounds, each tire spewing and screaming that wet white noise. It really is like a shriek…or some type of awful bodily process. Slept 11 hours. Haven’t done THAT in a while. 4 or 5 hours is the norm. Made eggs, set eggs down, grabbed a pound of ground beef (left it out yesterday to thaw) and threw it outside for the crows. Was initially unsure that any would be out and about. Earlier before I was totally awake my mind jumped to the beef – the question arose as to whether I should refreeze the beef or put it outside. In my sleepy state I figured that crows & ravens stay home on such grey days. But it seemed worth a shot. Sure enough – before I could even finish slicing the package open I heard one outside. & threw meat out & it yelled. Threw the rest of the meat out & it yelled again. Came downstairs, sat in chair. Decided I should pull the curtain to make myself less visible. A few moments later I realized I needed this pen & had to reach around the curtain to grab it off the windowsill. Just then – 2 large crows, or maybe ravens, headed south directly over the west end of the Selby house. They were flying quickly, as if having been in flight for some time already, leaving me unsure if they had been immediately on or near the house. So for the time being I;ll wait. Have about an hour before I should go to class which is enough time.

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10:12 am @ home – wasn’t feeling acting class today. The corvids are gathering. All of the meat is still there which is a surprise. But it might not be for long. Another across the street – southeast, flying eastward over (but close to) the roof of the buildings. Each car is another shriek, a sort of steel pulmonary expulsion.

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Birds aside, it is strikingly green. Grey/white sky yields to the immense and bright pine, verde, grassy, weedy, ivy, flowery, lively, springish, GREEEEN. What are other words for green? Only a few days ago the trees were seemingly barren, suggesting just a bit of buddery at their fingertips. But those distal bits of leaf of leaflet (whatever theyre called) after some time have erupted. In less than a week the trees have grown hairy with neon glo-stick lemon lime fringes. It’s as if that bit of spectrum between green & yellow were scribbled onto twigs. Moments ago as I was seeking another ‘green’ word a massive green garbage truck drove by. Its exterior (the upper half) was also an immensely bright shade of green, though obviously much more discernible and uniform in its coloration. Some bit of the truck was bright orange & that admittedly was offputting. Mostly it was a funny coincidence to see the greenness rolling by – i guess some of those wild wheeled wagons are worth the wily while.

Smaller birds on the roof now – it’s time to figure out exactly what they are. Finches? Sparrows? As two of the littler ones flit onward pas the window & THUD across the street. The shades are thin, sheer white whisps, & thru their ripples a man in a driveway. Also in driveway a truck, red rained on truck, red rained on truck with a bike on the back. Guy lowers back half of truck…unloads bike. My hand cant keep up – I look now and he is nowhere in sight. Neither is bike. Red rained on truck still is and the back of the thing is still down. These mini-moments have grown more compelling in the last year. Truthfully I feel sad or at least a bit silly for having never made an effort to meet any of my neighbors. This regular habit of street- and bird-watching has allowed some small view into the consistencies of their lives. The lady across the street who walks her dog in the morning – almost always walking east and then returning from that direction or perhaps from around the block (westward).

The red rained on truck guy just got back. Engine on. As it lurches out from its receptor site I see in my mind’s eye a vesicle, or vacuole, whose cargo has been successfully delivered to the new home for it, which is here, in this part of the cell. I see the purpose (at least the momentary purpose) of that truck & its driver, which is to deliver the red rained on bicycle, not unlike a vesicle or vacuole would deliver some protein or water or hormone or molecule, and I then see some protein or water or hormone or molecule being delivered, and then the purposeful repackaging of the vesicle or vacuole must take place, because its cargo has been successfully delivered to its new home, so the tail lights are going on and Im seeing this empty vesicle or vacuole take on a new momentary purpose, which is to be returned to the cell for other use. In the span of a few moments these images fly firmly and rapidly through my visual field, which is not to say I literally see them before me, but rather within me an imagination of them briefly occludes my ocular/mechanical sight. The image of a massive cell or organism has been powerful for some time now, and in the likeness between the truck and the little pictures in my neuroscience textbooks (which vaguely show zillions of little vesicles or vacuoles delivering their cargo, which is some protein or water or hormone or molecule, before being purposefully repackaged [once empty] such that it can take on a new momentary purpose, which is to return to the cell for other use). These types of analogies (if analogy is the right word) are occurring in my mind constantly. At the sensory level they can be distracting or begin to invade my–

 

Crow on the roof. A big baby. Well, it’s huge.

Eye contact.

It made me swell, chest still thumping. It landed on the west end of the roof, walked over, grabbed a big bit of meat. Held it in beak.

THOUGHTS FOR DAD (04/25/2017)

“Then a rich man said, Speak to us of Giving.

And he answered:

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city? And what is fear of need but need itself? Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy, and joy is their reward. And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism. And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;

They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

 

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding; And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving. And is there aught you would withhold? All you have shall some day be given. Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.” The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture. They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you. And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving. For in truth it is life that gives unto life – while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers – and you are all receivers – assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives. Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings; For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.”

(Gibran)