Friday, 20 April 2012

In passing

Cyclamen on Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, Rebecca Solnit

Orchid on Numbers in the Dark, Italo Calvino
The hush of the falling flowers in the hour before dawn. You've been gone, way too long. Time has passed. Time passes. Relentlessly. Every gesture plotting its escape. Moments flee rapidly. Time is past. But this is the present.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?

–– excerpt from Burnt Norton, by T. S. Eliot (Four Quartets)

Sunday, 15 April 2012


All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else. – Buddha
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it – Confucious
One must love everything– Virginia Woolf, Jacob's Room

Lately, I have been contemplating the word 'Everything'. Over the years as 'belongings' have diminished to only so much and nothing else, everything has become a well-worn word. Everything is disposable. We don't need everything. Everything isn't important. Everything must go.

3 suitcases, 2 checked in bags. 20 cartons of books and household goods. That is all. But is all everything? Einstein said, 'Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted'. Now you see what I mean? How do we make sense of everything?

The shape, the size, the feel of everything, as certain as the seasons, shifts and changes. And often slides into nothing. Yesterday what was everything, today it's nothing. Nothing. Always following everything. Like the shadow following the form. Till the inevitable moment in time when they merge to the point that it becomes almost redundant to separate nothing from everything. If you have nothing, you have everything.
Cleaning an Attic
By Brent Pallas

The day had finally come   
when everything there   

seemed misplaced or out of place   
as an ex's box of things. The unused   

beside the irreplaceable, the easy-   
to-assemble uncomplicated now   

by disuse. Some hand   
of randomness leaving behind   

its lampshades stained   
like ancient maps, its ladders   

still climbing upward, and enough   
old tools to restart a world.   

Every drawer filled   
with the other half of things.   

Everything care embraced,   
and held once as new,   

left too ragged for another winter   
to wear. Its ring of keys   

dangling by a nail   
for rooms left long ago. And whatever   

I said I'd never forget   
found, just as it seemed   

completely forgot—all its letters   
beginning with Dear....

By Fanny Howe

Infinite nesting
pushes all matter
towards emptiness:
with a root element of null.
None is always included
in every cluster
of children.

Nothing in nothing
prepares us.

Yet a fresh light was shed
on immortality
for me climbing the stairs
firm foot first.

Everything was in the banister:
crows on branches, crickets,
architects, handsaws and democrats.
Red moon at 3 am.

Hold Everything Dear
by Gareth Evans, from 'Hold Everything Dear' by John Berger

As the brick of the afternoon stores the rose heat of the journey
as the rose buds a green room to breathe
and blossoms like the wind
as the thin birches whisper their stories of the wind to the urgent
in the trucks
as the leaves of the hedge store the light
the day thought it had lost
as the nest of her wrist beats like the chest of a sparrow in the turning air
as the chorus of the earth find their eyes in the sky
and unwrap them to each other in the teeming dark
hold everything dear
the calligraphy of birds across the morning
the million hands of the axe, the soft hand of the earth
one step ahead of time
the broken teeth of tribes and their long place
steppe-scattered and together
clay’s small, surviving handle, the near ghost of a jug
carrying itself towards us through the soil
the pledge of offered arms, the single sheet that is our common walking
the map of the palm held
in a knot
but given as a torch
hold everything dear
the paths they make towards us and how far we open towards them
the justice of a grass that unravels palaces but shelters the songs of the searching
the vessel that names the waves, the jug of this life, as it fills with the days
as it sinks to become what it loves
memory that grows into a shape the tree always knew as a seed
the words
the bread
the child who reaches for the truths beyond the door
the yearning to begin again together
animals keen inside the parliament of the world
the people in the room the people in the street the people
hold everything dear

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Fool

The Fool's number is 0, no number, but for me 0 is a number. The fool in the tarot deck is as strong as all the cards put together. Why? Because he represents man on his spiritual quest. Not knowing where he is going, the fool is ready to discover. He is the hero of the fairy tales who appears dim-witted but is able to find the "treasure" where others have failed. The fool has few possessions. He travels light.*

The fool with his childlike sense of wonder dances through life looking at things for what they are and not what they are supposed to mean or what they are supposed to symbolize. He lacks knowledge, wealth and success in the conventional sense. So it is no surprise that often the terms 'merry' and 'happy' are associated with him.

That's why, perhaps, we have a day dedicated to celebrate the fool in all of us. As we become a sum total of our consumptions, our worth measured in terms of possessions and happiness becomes a pursuit of a 'like' here and a 'share' there. As we surrender our sense of wonder at the alter of  'gaining' knowledge and 'attaining' a 'respectable' position in the world, maybe it is necessary to sometimes be shown for the fool that we actually are. To remind us, as we sit smug and comfortable in our grand palace of knowledge and wealth, impervious to the chains rattling at our ankle, that somewhere out in the world there is a fool not knowing where he is going, but ready to discover. He is carefree. He is merry. And he travels light.

*Niki de Saint Phalle Tarot Cards. To take a tour of Niki de Saint Phalle's magical Il Giardino dei Tarocchi or The Garden of Tarot click here.