Cross My Heart and Hope to Write

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Porphyrogenitos and Wyld Chyld Tattoo Studio


This past Thursday (December 15th at 7:30pm), I had the pleasure of sharing my work with a small group of individuals in the back of Wyld Chyld Cafe and Tattoo Parlor in Merrick, NY. I attended the event on a whim, which was supposed to be hosted by another poet. Upon my arrival, however, I was told by the small group of 6 strangers that the poet was unable to host due to personal matters. Seeking the opportunity, I was kindly asked to take her place and to share some of my work, including some pieces from the blog. It was an incredibly intimate and pleasurable experience; I am thankful for my decision to contribute. I was told that such events are held Tuesday and Thursday of each week, in case anyone in the area is interested. The parlor itself is lovely, quaint, simple, but unique. Perhaps I'll have to stop in for a tattoo sometime...

Let's move onto the poetry, shall we? This weeks entry is very, very important to me, and should be heeded by anyone who considers themselves an admirer of my work. The poem is called "Porphyrogenitos" and is Latin for "born in the purple room". During the Byzantine Empire, the heir to the thrown of emperor was customarily born in the Porphyry (Purple) Chamber of the Great Palace of Constantinople. Later, the term "born in the purple room" came to mean someone who was born to prominent parents, such as royalty or in possession of wealth. The title (as always) contradicts the rest of the piece - it is my own personal elegy. Keep this in mind, ladies and gentlemen, should anything happen to me. Of course, I very well may write another one before my final breath, but until then, please enjoy this farewell. I hope it leaves a lasting impression.            

Porphyrogenitos

And if I were to die someday,
How selfish it would be
To erect an epitaph
That concerns only me.
As a courier of mankind,
As a cradler of life,
To dwell on such fickle things as death
Would be a futile strife,
For the median between
The first cry and the final breath
Is the majesty of the cosmos; 
The opportunity to exist,
To awe at tearful memorials,
Monuments and structures,
That twirl about our azure balloon 
And hinder us at our junctures.
The beauty yond that is eternal, 
To live and cherish every view,
That may caress and harbor gently 
The soul inside of you.
We do not lounge beneath your feet,
We enthrall the very deed
That brings about new consciousness -
Fuel for the life-giving machine!
Do not walk on in darkness,
Questioning what lingers above,
Profess your immortal souvenir
By drowning the world in a sea of love.      

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kill Yourself Cookie

A very quick update today. I have begun to trudge through the contents of my filing cabinet, which contains hundreds of poems that I have written over the course of my life (some more precious than others). The one I've pulled out for you today is called "Kill Yourself Cookie".
Now, apparently, as I have been told, the group of friends I consider my closest kin happen to be quite creative... and mildly insane (I guffaw at the audacity of "mildly"). Thus, the name comes from my very good man Henry Oakes, who uttered this phrase quite some years ago, to which I felt compelled to document. I set it aside until I found a pertinent poem to attach it to. (I keep a cache of poem titles "just in case"; I feel there is a curious relationship between the title of a poem and the poem itself, in that they don't necessarily need to compliment one another. In fact, I enjoy when a title can evoke something to ponder and the poem can evoke something entirely different).
The poem deals with the notion of our physicality, our relationship to the divine and the universe, reincarnation, and the general plight of knowing, "Who am I?" A rather scatterbrain construction, it reads like a run on sentence and reflects my younger style of writing. I hope you all are starting to get a taste for my technique. Enjoy!


Kill Yourself Cookie

Descend
Transcend my being
Trip through an arch that's been carved from my thighs
Climbing
Higher and higher
To a depth I thought I'd never reach
Beseech me!
I found a pluperfect means of hide and seek
Tickled
Harmonized
A monoxenous Christ
Everything, but seams
I found another hole
To a soul that appeared to me, out of control
I found a mirror that was a window to another Columbus toll
Slip me a slip to pass through, the open doors of crypts stripped of open sores
Too many floors of business
Too many points of interest
Too much to witness
Do you remember when?
I was there
Back when I was fed with horsehair
It was something I couldn't reveal
A bee sting that wouldn't heal
A saint's ring I just couldn't steal
Sympathy I just wouldn't feel
Chastity
You've clamped my little finger
In short-time, lined along a dead sea
Fractured
Compound
Pushed on through
Lick the bowl clean, but leave me the spoon  
Born again
(I've lost track of my birthdays)
Tumbling down the cranks and spells that came standard with the gifts they left me
Frankincence disease
Magi, scorn with pink eye
Dead man's float
touting skulls on a black mattress
Hat tricks
Dining on rabbits
Sixth dimension antics
Fourth dimension intuition
Kickstart conquests, on a mission
Embryonic fluid
(I like it straight)
Shaken, not stirred
Nibbling on the bate
Of time
I withstood all the mammalian elements I could
Too many times I've tasted the batter of enthalpy
Reincarnate the meat
Baptized in the river Styx
Gathered up by the linens of Nyx
Neurotic
Paraphysical
Held dear by the spirits
While condemned to reckon, but never know who I am
To the glass eye of Earth's sky
I've swam in its storms
Ken blotted by a swollen sun
Elegy after elegy
Head stone after stone
The grass stains on a shadow
But the shape never known

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Tear Collector

This, ladies and gentleman, is the single most important work I have ever written. "Why?" you may wonder. Well, for one, it's the first story I ever wrote to its completion. I was nigh 16 when the idea occurred to me while riding a bus to school. At the time, I was rather depressed (over what, escapes me now), but I pondered the possibility of saving up my tears in jars. Most certainly impractical, the concept lingered in my synapses and began to flesh itself out, stringing together ideas that had been biding in my mind with no commonality for years (fallen angels, carrousels, poisonous flowers, bathing in blood, Latin, holy war, Frankenstein, and the list continues). Once the writing process began, I remember I looked forward to coming home every day from school to write until dinner time; it took about 9 months to complete. It is the second longest story I have written to date at about 90 pages (second only to The Purgatory Wing, which I'm sure to include an excerpt of here eventually). I am currently attempting to revise a lot of it, mostly improving upon the gammer, though I felt it quite pertinent to share a sample at this time.
More importantly than the work itself is the impact it had on my writing in general. At the time I began writing the piece, my understanding of grammar was fairly deficit. Growing up, I was a special needs student with behavioral problems, which made my teaching environment rather unique. I knew how to use periods, exclamation points and question marks properly, but other grammatical rules (such as the proper way to use a comma or semicolon, or how to separate paragraphs) were nonexistent. This being the case, I wrote the entire story as one continuous paragraph consisting of sentences built solely around periods, exclamation points and question marks. Only after the story was completed did I go back and add in commas, semicolons and so forth. All that being said, writing The Tear Collector singlehandedly taught me the rules of language.
Alright, enough history! The actual story concerns a 16-year-old boy (haha!) by the name of Fleo (Latin=to cry) who is orphaned at an early age and left to fend for himself in a bustling metropolis in an unnamed land, surviving in the home of and off the fortune left by his father after he committed suicide. For as long as he can remember, he has felt this sickening pain in his soul that has never left him. While attempting suicide, Fleo dips into the Dark (the afterlife constituted by Light and Dark, respectively), but miraculously returns to the realm of the living - only with a horrible secret. His secret is discovered by the tyrannical emperor of the metropolis Sir Malus Contemno (Latin = evil and despised) who desires to capture him. Fleo is lead into the uncharted woods that surround the city by a man named Sapiens (Latin = wisdom) to protect him, and the hunt begins. The rest of the story consists of his escape into the woods and the people he meets there, discovering the forgotten history of the land along the way.
The small section I have included here is taken from the chapter entitled The Girl in Blue a third of the way through the novel. Fleo has met a wandering girl in the woods by the name of Angelus (Latin=the angel). We find them in the wee hours of the night sitting beneath a hulking willow tree, its branches aglow with fireflies and insects. It reads from the point of view of Fleo and, well, let's indulge, shall we?

The Tear Collector

     "She lifted her face to my eyes once more. She was so picturesque, so pleasing to my gaze that I did not want to look away. In that moment, those precious moments we had shared for the short while we had known each other (the most alien and indescribable moments of my entire existence), a passion had replaced the longing, bleeding, saddened crux that sat in my chest for as long as I could remember. A burning flame, a torch to light the dark path of uncertainty I had always traveled had been kindled. This newfound glory erected a warrior within me, ready to bite the bullet of love and strive for it with the zeal of a trillion valentines. 
     In seeing her, she flooded me with a happiness I had never felt, drowning all the pain and suffering. The reason I could never find was suddenly welled up inside of me, nearly bringing me to tears. With an unstoppable desire that I knew was right, I placed my hand in hers and pulled her close to me. My eyes dipped back into my skull as I pushed my lips to her's and the moment they met I felt another death become me. In that symbiotic moment, a burst of electrical ecstasy pulsed through every stem of my being, every wish and dream, and gave them life. Every question, every fear was shunned away, and the hunger I had felt before was suddenly satiated. As I held my eyes shut, savoring the texture of her lips, feeling as divinity filled my soul, I heard the leaves above us rustle and shiver as the trunk beside us shifted and creaked. A great rush of light illuminated my eyes from the inside as the insects flew off into the night in all directions, mimicking the walls of my heart as they were obliterated beneath the force of love."                    

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shogyoumujou and Photos


Hello all, and Happy Thanksgiving to everything. I find it rather curious that we have as a nation designated one day to be thankful for a plethora of things when it only takes a moment each day to meditate on what you have and to give thanks to whatever circumstantial entity has gifted you with it (God, fate, luck, etc.). The very fact that we are conscious creatures, able to experience this existence, all its pains and pleasures, tears and smiles, is a miracle. My challenge to each of you is for the next week, just take one moment each day to reflect on all the things you have been blessed with in this life. That can be your gift to me.

Anyhow, we have a considerably long poem in this post. The rhyme-scheme per stanza is sort of wonky (ABCDABCD-EE-FFGHHG-II), but I enjoy playing around with rhyme-scheme to see how thier affect changes. The name is a Japanese term for a Buddhist concept that says that all worldly things are transitory and impermanent. The poem tells the fictional story of a girl with thorns for hair who wanders around an arid world and, well... I'll just let you read on. I'm very proud of this piece and I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I did writing it.


Shogyoumujou

Locks of thorns
The sharpest type
As long as limbs
That proliferated
Curled and scorn
That made it hard to bite
Without scaring the lips
They lacerated
Naked as the earth on which she walked
Never knew another soul, and as such, never talked
The sun seared
For three hundred years 
And yet her skin remained as white as a lotus
Her fingers bled
From running them through her hair 
However she remained too mesmerized to notice
For her eyes had been bleached every color ever known
And with each sweltering day that passed her compassion had grown

Just beneath the thin flesh she wore
Pulsed a massive heart
That had pushed all the other components aside
To make room to beat
It had sieved away her ability to abhor
And left nothing but perfection wrought
And of that space that remained inside
Scuttled a rhythm that was erratically sweet
Abusive, elusive and catatonic
Loquacious, gracious, and cacophonic
It was all of sound she understood
And she danced and hummed as anyone would
To the music of the celestial organ
Swooning with every step she took 
Chills she attained, under goose bumps she shook
Barbs were to her as snakes were to the gorgon 
Tears rolled down her cheeks, overcome by a mercurial bliss
That can only faintly be challenged by the taste of a kiss

Until inexplicably
On the eve of a storm
Lightning struck at her feet
Before the sun was consumed
Hitherto cyclically
As all things in the universe conform
On this eve she would meet
The perpetuator of why flowers bloom
Within the matter of several decades
The rain thereupon began to cascade
Dousing her in a strange sensation
Far beyond her instigation 
She bathed for the very first time
She danced as lightning struck the ground
And thunder abounded all around
Giving plot to her idyllic mime
Her chest tightened and made every breath a cherished one
As the sky continued to hiss, spit and fire like a gun

She fell onto her knees
Anguish sprayed across her face
Yet a smile painted her all the more
A glistening nirvana shone in her eyes
Her lips refused to bleed
Her fingers no longer grazed 
Her muscles flexed and nearly tore
As she screamed back at the sky
Her gauzy flesh was a window now
To her veins within, splaying out 
They twitched and flickered
As she cricked and snickered
Her heartbeat fighting against the roar of the squall
Her organs contorted
To the bone she resorted
As her tongue seemed to cramp into a great knotted ball
The tumult, the torment, the torturous ecstasy 
The gamut, the gambit, the ungodly euphony   

With a surge of expurgation, her wrists tore open
And the veins and capillaries from within were freed
They flailed like feeble tentacles
Slashing at the brainsick ether
Tears continued to roil, but in her eyes they were a heavenly token
Her tubular extensions groped the ground, as if reaching to lay their seed
It was the most wondrous of wonderful spectacles
The lightning stopped, as if it knew it was too late to reach her
She fell further into her stupor and heap
As she laughed wildly and continued to weep
The veins in her back, chest and face,
From her legs too, unraveled in a horrendous embrace
They stretched toward the cold, coral colored earth
Her voice cracked and ceased as her tears stopped flowing
The clouds seemed to thin, the wind eased its blowing
The only disturbance then was her still beating heart in the forsaken mirth
The capillaries were like root hairs, the veins burrowed further
As the heart was revealed, still enraptured in fervor

Her fists still clutched muddy soil
Her ribcage fanned outward and dipped in the mire
As the spider webbing of internal transit
Pulled the heart downward bellow the sand
Thunder cracked above the blue and red toil
As the coiled capillaries fidgeted and perspired
Only the ragged and tattered skin on the surface now sits 
Limp and monotonous, in lumps, ribbons and strands
The zephyr had cleared and the sun still endured
Yet no life now existed for it to scorn
Then came with a burst and a drivel anonymous
A strange noise that was secular and autonomous
The unresponsive husk flinched and showed a dim glimmer of survival
It jumped and frisked, and made some attempt
Gave indication of life hence no longer preempt
But within moments that assumption was naught, for the body was desecrated by a 
new arrival
The once pale and flawless flesh shattered into dust
And where it had fallen stood a magnificent tree, arborous


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Far Afield and SBU Poetry Slam

Tonight, I had the wonderful opportunity to perform with fellow poets at the second-annual Stony Brook University Slam Poetry. I was unable to attend the past two semesters and nearly missed out this semester. The coordinators were kind enough to allow me to perform, even though I did not attend rehearsal. I performed "Early Girl" and got a really nice response from the rest of the performers. I want to thank them for the support. I handed out some fliers, so hopefully some of you will be stopping in.


Anyhow, I have included with this post an excerpt from a rather extensive short story I wrote that has been received wholesomely by those I have shown it to. It's called "Far Afield", and concerns a gentleman named Elmer and his interactions with a young girl named Amber. The best way to describe the story is the juxtaposition of an older man who has reached the end of his journey, while a young girl has only just begun hers. It is a woeful, sobering examination into the nature of human existence and how two people, in hopeless circumstances, regain control of their lives in the midst of giving up on it. I implore you to contact me if you feel compelled to read the rest. Enjoy!


Far Afield

"I’d partaken of it all, every backwater pastime imaginable and every festive, edacious celebration under the sun. I made moonshine, saw auroras, climbed mountains and started bar fights. I’d scaled redwoods, sailed gulfs, attended raves and churned butter. Rendezvoused the whores of Vegas, stood in the shadows of the monuments at D.C., traded with the dealers of Hollywood and trekked the scenery at Yellowstone. But for what? What’d it all amounted to? Emptiness – a deepening gorge in my spirit that consumes every attempt at filling it. After all the experiences, the motel rooms, the bars, the nightclubs, the cabins, and the convention centers, I would always walk away with a sense of unfulfilled desire, not anything sullied sex or controlled substances could satiate, but a longing to finish something I never started. Perhaps it was life itself. Ha! I couldn’t stop myself from laughing, laughing at this scene, this endgame. Standing smack-dab in the middle of some boilerplate nowhere, laughing myself near to tears. It made the firearm feel warmer in my hands.
Yet I could not stop my heart from racing. As welcoming as the solution once seemed, an anticlimactic, romanticized conclusion to a no doubt disappointing double feature, the stigma of my stubborn neuroses still prevented me from surmounting that omnipresent instinct they call life, a restraint I’d underestimated. That distant glory they call happiness had long ago abandoned me to fend for myself out there, dashed away when hallow love was hollowed out and left a crust for me to dine upon eternally. Perhaps that was its last spiteful aggrandizement – leaving me to seek nourishment from those things I once held dear, never allowing me to walk away, always tarring at its coattails for a scrap of that which I once cherished. Yet I still held on tactlessly."

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Hearts Series and Heidegger

"The poetic projection of truth that sets itself into work as figure is also never carried out in the direction of an indeterminate void. Rather, in the work, truth is thrown toward the coming preservers, that is, toward an historical group of men.""Truth, as the clearing and concealing of what is, happens in being composed, as a poet composes a poem. All art, as the letting happen of the advent of the truth of what is, is, as such, essentially poetry." "The nature of art is poetry. The nature of poetry, in turn, is the founding of truth.""Poetry, however, is not an aimless imagining of whimsicalities and not a flight of mere notions and fancies into the realm of the unreal. What poetry, as illuminating projection, unfolds of unconcealedness and projects ahead into the design of the figure, is the Open which poetry lets happen, and indeed in such a way that only now, in the midst of beings, the Open brings beings to shine and ring out. If we fix our vision on the nature of the work and its connection with the happening of the truth of what is, it becomes questionable whether the nature of poetry, and this means at the same time the nature of projection, can be adequately thought of in terms of the power of imagination."    


"If all art is in essence poetry, then the arts of architecture, painting, sculpture, and music must be traced back to poesy. That is pure arbitrariness. It certainly is, as long as we mean that those arts are varieties of the art of language, if it is permissible to characterize poesy by that easily misinterpretable title. But poesy is only one mode of the lighting projection of truth, i.e., of poetic composition in this wider sense. Nevertheless, the linguistic work, the poem in the narrower sense, has a privileged position in the domain of the arts."  

"Art, as the setting into work of truth, is poetry. Not only the creation of the work is poetic, but equally poetic, though in its own way, is the preserving of the work; for a work is in actual effect as a work only when we remove ourselves from our commonplace routine and move into what is disclosed by the work, so as to bring our own nature itself to take a stand in the truth of what is."



"Language itself is poetry in the essential sense. But since language is the happening in which for man beings first disclose themselves to him each time as beings, poesy - or poetry in the narrower sense - is the most original form of poetry in the essential sense. Language is not poetry because it is the primal poesy; rather, poesy takes place in language because language preserves the original nature of poetry."
"Poetic projection come from Nothing in this respect, that it never takes its gift from the ordinary and traditional. But it never comes from Nothing in that what is projected by it is only the withheld vocation of the historical being of man itself."   

 All horribly positioned images aside, I have here the newest additions to The Hearts Series. It has been a while since I last updated the series, but rest assured I have been collecting many specimens of said phenomena - there is no exhaustion of hearts out there! Keep your eyes peeled for what I'm talking about, and, as always, feel free to contact me if you'd like to share them. In addition, I have a link to an article I recently wrote for The Roads Scholar, a newsletter catering to commuter students at Stony Brook University: The Stony Brook Identity. The article is called, "The Stony Brook Identity: An Issue of Presence and Stigma"and represent my theory on why the general student body of SB considers commuter students to be "under-involved". Contextually, the article may not make sense to some, but it represents my skills in presenting and defending an argument. At any rate, these photos and the link are the extent to which I have included my work in this entry, the rest I've dedicated to the brilliant philosopher, Martin Heidegger.
              Being a Psychology & Philosophy double major, I have been reading excerpts from Heidegger's "Origin of the Work of Art" in my aesthetics course. The work is absolutely incredible, though admittedly dense. In it, Heidegger examines the nature of art and what it is that makes a work of art a work of art. The last chapter of the work, entitled "Truth and Art", concerns art's relationship with truth. Heidegger eventually makes the assertion that all art is essentially poetry. Naturally, poetry being my principle means of expression, I was highly aroused by his claims. I have included here several passages scattered about the post that I personally feel are wonderful, informative, articulate, and to a certain degree true (though certainly in lieu of the Heideggerian notion of truth). Enjoy!

"It is due to art's poetic nature that, in the midst of what is, art breaks open an open place, in whose openness everything is other than usual."       

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ferno and More Art

A combination of various, seemingly uninterconnected images into one. I took the symbol of a question park and incorporated into it an image of a noose. The noose is decorated to resemble a candy-cane, and I placed a black barb at the end to further make it resemble a fishing hook. Lastly, the dot beneath is modeled to look like a bursting bubble.   

Something new in store for you, kiddos. Up until now, we have seen my art, short stories, photography, essays, even short film. But here we have something totally different: Rap lyrics. That's right, you heard correctly, rap lyrics. I have only written a handful of these things in my day. Dabbling, you know. This particular piece came about on a dare. I work with a gentleman named Dontay who is an up-and-coming rapper. I first noticed his talent after hearing him subtly rapping under his breath at work one day. He raps under the name "Ferno" (a reference to Dante's Inferno) and I must admit, he's pretty incredible. For a taste, here's a link: Ferno & S. Dubz - Get Cream. He is the first gentleman who "tares it up". He's got several videos on YouTube that I highly recommend. Anyhow, he challenged me to write a rap for him and this was the result. As you can probably guess from the title, its about him. Now, I must point out, my rap style is a bit wonky and is somewhat hard for others to get down. But, alas, I must perform it to explain, and that sure as hell ain't happening! So enjoy the rap and the art that accompanies it, and let me know what you think.

The edges of this sketch have been carefully burned (as you can see to the right of the image). I was inspired after watching rain drip from my fingers. The spindly design also invokes spider silk. 

Ferno

Talking to himself, he can always be seen,
conniving and striving for a shallow dream,
but he digs deeper,
into places unseen.
Inside himself, he finds the strength to achieve,
everything
he ever understood to be real;
the right to exist,
and for the world to know what he feels;
that there's a mind
that lies
behind these eyes,
and to recognize the fight that comes with life. 
While other’s tot pistols and deal their dope,
he gets high and shoots up with the words he wrote
attested 
and arrested with a concealed weapon
that he keeps cocked and ready to blast with a passion.
Never before seen,
never before conceived;
energy that burns holes in the souls of the industry.
Yet, we see
just another solemn man on the street,
talking to himself,
but could we ever believe?

His soul bleeds
And we wear the stains.
Sip from the same cup
He refills with his pain,
But we can’t taste
Of the beauty contained,
As we wash our clothes of
The colors he paints

June moonlight
illuminates an note pad, 
its 4am
and there’s no sound but his chest.
As it pounds,   
a beat that he writes to in the dark,
his eyes closed,
but his pen continues to mark
up the paper.
He tares off another sheet
and starts again clean.
His frustration mounts,
but his heart still beats.
So he scribbles another line,
which only he can read,
as it’s a race between his pen
and the thoughts he can’t free,
and the page he tore off flutters down to the floor,
where it joins another heap of a hundred or more.
Some are torn,
some are crumpled,
some are folded in two,
and there are a thousands of them scattered around the room.
Some believe that the Bible was written this way,
but there’s a difference between what we believe and what we say,
and he struggles with this flaw everyday,
between what his heart tells him
and how fast he can write on the page

His soul bleeds
And we wear the stains.
Sip from the same cup
He refills with his pain,
But we can’t taste
Of the beauty contained,
As we wash our clothes of
The colors he paints.

His tongue flicks ghostly under his breath,
rhyming words mostly, senses are deaf
to those that take time to stare and oppress
the expression of his emotions, under a blanket of breath.
And they stomp out the sound
until it sticks to their shoes,
and they carry it around
until it becomes a nuisance,
banging on their eardrums,
concocting new songs
with a beat that spreads like cookie crumbs
to the corners of their hearts,
where it curls up and dies,
like they forced the beat back
in his own, and he cries
tears that fall like a bow on violin strings,
until it explodes into violent things.
A cacophony,
a symphony
for the sympathy
that was never granted to me.
Now you see
that the man that you pass on the street 
with his hands in his pockets and his tongue in his cheek
was the man that you see
with the mic in his hand,
bathed in light,
on the stage where he stands
inside his mind,
but all you understand
is a man with no means
to succeed,
but everyone has the right to dream.
     
His heart sings,
But all we hear is muffled sighs.
We are blind to the tears
That well in his eyes.
We can shake his hands,
But are numb to their touch.
We could listen a little closer,
But it will never be enough.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Possession and Recognition of Beauty

I have here a treat for all of you who have diligently been following my blog. You may not know, but I am currently a Psychology & Philosophy double-major at Stony Brook University. The psychology is for career purposes; the philosophy is for pleasure. The treat (which you may not all think of as a treat) is, instead of giving you all a mere excerpt, I am posting an entire philosophical paper I have spent most of the day slaving over. It is called "The Possession and Recognition of Beauty" and deals with my own theory on beauty. I make reference to several well known philosophers within the text and its considerably thorough. Its pretty extensive, so rather than attempting to summarize it, I'll just let you all take a crack at it. Let me know what you think by sounding off in the Comments section or by responding on the Facebook page/group. Enjoy!

The Possession and Recognition of Beauty
by The Sven-Bo!

Concerning the section entitled Love of Beauty of Plato’s Symposium, I do not think that beauty is some superior, absolute, pure concept or entity, independent of any particulars. Indeed, there is a saying I have adhered to that occurred to me in my teens: “Beauty is not defined by those who perceive it – it is defined by those who possess it”. The gist of such a quote is in direct opposition of the classic, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. George Berkeley famously wrote in A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, “To be is to be perceived”. So too might the acquisition of beauty – that is, the subjective observation, acceptance, recognition or assertion of beauty – be dependent upon our ability to perceive it, such that beauty does not exist independent of perception. This, of course, compliments the “eye of the beholder” argument.
However, the perception of beautiful objects is vastly more subjective than the perception of mere objects, for there appears to be more general consensus when perceiving a common object, while the perception of beauty within that object is much more variable. I do not speak here of mere objects as Martin Heidegger does of mere things in Thing and Work, but objects generally that do not invoke beauty. Certainly, the man who collects pens perceives the pen with a certain degree of beauty that someone who is equally familiar with pens (though perhaps not as intimately) may not himself perceive. We can of course argue that any object has the opportunity to be perceived as beautiful, something Immanuel Kant seems apt to accept. Yet, even the man who collects pens holds certain individual pens with a somewhat heightened degree of beauty than others, though it can be said he finds the form of the pen beautiful (if we are to invoke Plato’s theory of Forms, though these forms lie beyond human experience). Kant will argue in Artistic Genius that beauty lies neither in the object that invokes nor in the person who judges beauty, but in the universal experience of beauty. Beauty, than, seems independent of the particular.
Nevertheless, I believe beauty is dependent upon the particular. To disregard perception for a moment and to focus instead on the object as an object, every composite in the universe (or any object composed of particles) is unique, for no two objects, no matter how similar in dimension or appearance, are ever exact representations of one another. No two objects in the universe contain the same atoms of matter! To draw a more familiar inference, in the case of human beings, though two individuals may share the same DNA sequence (monozygotic twins), their personalities differ, the scars they acquire in the course of their existence are randomized, and memories, experiences, mutations, and ailments never coincide. Even emotions or experiences that in our swoon we call beautiful have a chemical basis within the brain and are unique, for they are released in an instant and are recycled or destroyed in another, with each burst never the same as the last nor the next.
To speak of perfection, these purely individual aspects attest to the perfection of each object, for no other object is an exact replication of any other object, and therefore represents the singular representation of itself, making it perfect. The beauty that is contained within each individual object is than likewise uniquely composed, for each part may indeed be somehow beautiful, but when brought together to form the object as a whole, they simultaneously construct its unique beauty, for individually they cannot represent the object – that is to say, the perfection of an object as evidenced by its singular construction attests to its particular beauty.
            If one conforms to Plato’s theory of forms mentioned before, they may point out that the true beauty of an object as a whole lies with its Form or the idea of the object contained in true reality beyond our sensuous experience. Each individual part, so also conforming to its corresponding Form, possesses a singular beauty as well. We, being creatures trapped in a sensuous world, are subject to its confinement and cannot access the true beauty of an object, but can only infer it subjectively, leading to inconsistencies. To challenge this, I would present the possibility of an object that is ambiguous in form. We may be able to recognize certain aspects of the object, but as a whole we cannot even grasp what the object is; there is disagreement of what we are looking at. This is the case with many contemporary art sculptures. We cannot agree on what the object is or what it depicts, and yet we can still find the object beautiful. A counterargument may be that the object’s true Form exists and that we simply cannot access it and its beauty, but than how can we access its beauty if we cannot access what the object is, for in true reality I would imagine its beauty and its Form to be synonymous? Once more, we are left only with the object and its beauty.         
To return to the role of the observer, the recognition of beauty appears entirely subjective. However, as Elaine Scarry attests in her On Beauty and Being Just, there are moments when an object formerly perceived as non-beautiful suddenly becomes illuminated and is seen as inspiringly beautiful. Even Heidegger, writing in The Work and Truth, writes that, “Beauty is one way in which truth occurs as unconcealedness”, where truth is conceived as a kind of revealing of the true nature of a thing (perhaps Plato’s Forms). This suggests to me that the unique beauty possessed by the object of perception has existed since the existence of the object and the observer’s recognition of that beauty is evoked by some illumination or sudden realization on the part of the observer. But what of instances where the beauty is lost? Once more, the recognition of beauty within an object may fall out of favor due to changes in the perception or preference of the observer. Kant’s testament that beauty is really the shared experience of recognizing beauty may have something to say here.
Yet, there appears to be a difference between a declaration of beauty and the experience of beauty. Certainly, anyone can call something beautiful, but is my experience of beauty identical to anyone else’s? Do I experience beauty in the same manner as the next person? When I recognize a flower as being beautiful, that is not the same beauty with which I recognize a car. Though they may both be blue, even the same shade of blue, and I may recognize the blue as a beautiful aspect of both objects, my experience of the blue of the flower and of the blue of the car is not the same, for the blueness of the flower belongs to the flower and is dependent upon the flower and the blueness of the car belongs to the car and is dependent upon the car. The characteristics that make an object of beauty beautiful are dependent upon the object of beauty. In a like manner, my experience of beauty is dependent upon my ability to experience it, as Barkeley wrote. Similarly, I cannot collectively experience the beauty of one car and another car, even if they are identical, and the same goes for flowers. If I eventually no longer find a particular car or flower beautiful, my experience of that beauty has been lost. If sometime later I again find the former car or flower beautiful, I cannot experience the same experience of beauty as before, but a different experience of beauty, though the beauty remains identical. All of which is to say that Kant’s universality of the experience of beauty is flawed due to the transient nature of the recognition of beauty. 
For we as objects in nature as well are subject to change and decay just as the objects of beauty are. We are reborn in every instant, such that I am not the same man as I was when I began this essay; indeed, when I began this sentence; indeed, when I began this word! We are changing in each and every moment, our beliefs evolving, our emotions maturing, our knowledge growing vaster, and our fears smaller. Our acceptance and acquisition of beauty, therefore, is likewise subject to change, thus we lose the recognition of some beauty to gain or even regain others (though not the same recognition as before). In like manner, stone erodes, wood molders and colors fade, abandoning the beauty they once possessed. And yet, the beauty that is lost gives way to a new beauty. The object is no longer the same, its pieces fallen away, and thus the beauty is no longer the same. The beauty of the dilapidated mansion is not the same as the beauty of its prime. The relationship between our continuing acquisition and recognition of beauty and the ever-changing nature of beautiful objects, ebbing and flowing through one another, gives rise to this notion of beauty as subjective, non-universal, and “in the eye of the beholder”.
As has been mentioned, multiple layers of beauty may be found within the same object of perception, but these multiple layers cannot equate to the beauty of the whole. Though an object may be seen as beautiful for certain aspects, those aspects may fall out of favor within the observer and the beauty lost, while the observer may discover or rediscover later other aspects of the same object that rekindle, though different, an awareness of beauty. Yet, the beauty of the entire object and each aspect remains untouched, and if the observer cannot regard the object as beautiful as a whole, than it has been lost to them. There appears to be than both a possession of beauty within the object independent of the observer (as well as other objects) and a subjective awareness of beauty on the part of the observer at play in the recognition and possession of beauty.
Objects as a whole are beautiful by means of their construction as composed of atoms found no where else in the universe. Each individual component of an object may be perceived as beautiful, but cannot singularly attest to the beauty of the object, only collectively. Each object as a singular representation of itself is, by virtue of that fact, perfect. Any change in an object is accompanied by a change in its beauty, for it no longer represents itself but something else, which is itself a singular representation of itself, and is therefore perfect (though in possession of a perfection that is not identical to its former self, which has been lost along with its beauty). We, as creatures who are continually in a state of change, are continually opening up to and closing ourselves off from the beauty of objects, are becoming aware of certain aspects (and thereby their beauties) within an object and the beauty of an object as a whole due to the changes within us. The beauty, however, both of the pieces of an object and the object as a whole, remain untouched and immaculate. So too is the perfection of the object.
The role of the observer, than, is learning to recognize the beauty that exists in all things, both individuals and objects. Each person is beautiful in his or her own rank. Rank indeed, for even the flaws, the mistakes, the negative acquisitions of the individual contribute to their beauty just as much as the goodness, the serenity, and the benevolence. As cliché as the declaration may seem, we are each unique in our construction; the combinations of human characteristics are infinite. So too is each object, whether its art, nature, a structure, or a piece of rubbish, every object that exists and has existed contains within it its own beauty and perfection that we rarely ever observe in its entirety. Perhaps, for a fleeting moment, we do, but it never lasts – still the beauty of the object remains eternal. It is never changing, until the object changes, whereupon it dies and a new beauty is born, like nothing else before or since. Our responsibility as observers of beautiful things is to recognize the beauty that is contained within all things. It is not a selfish act, it is not what is beautiful to us, it is recognizing beauty in general – it is learning to accept, respect, and appreciate the beauty that exists within each and everything, alive or otherwise. That is the challenge; that is the secret to the possession and recognition of beauty, for "Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, it is in that which can be beheld".  

Saturday, October 15, 2011

1.7 and Photos


Its time for a new poem entry and some new photos. I've started a new poetry series as well, barely in the making. It deals with schizophrenia. I'll have more to offer once I get writing. Anyhow, seeing as we are approaching Halloween season here in New York, I have a poem that deals with a theme that I have become particularly fond of: Death. As with my previous entry Dust, Death is a subject that I am fascinated by. I even for a time contemplated studying Thanatology - the scientific study of death. This particular poem, as such, I am very fond of. It came about as a combination of a desire to write an Iraq war poem and research I had been doing for my novel. The title "1.7", is an estimate of how often something in the world dies (taking into consideration every living creature, including plant matter, on the planet, though I'm sure this is an under-estimate). Also, I've created a Facebook Group in addition to the page. Its called, "Fans of The Sven-Bo!" (http://www.facebook.com/groups/258737270828915/). I designed it as a place where people can better connect with my work and hopefully give my feedback on how I might be able to better market my things. At any rate, please enjoy this entry and the photos that accompany it.



1.7

The sensation of being shot is not an easy thing to describe,
Nor the crisp realization that you are about to die.
No longer cause for concern, the latter things I had in mind.
Only this crisp realization: Here and now is how I die.
My back against a wall in some depleted Iraqi town,
The blood seeping from my body sprawled across the ground.
The slug is hot inside my gut, all the pieces shattered and screaming,
Lodged inside my spine, small intestine, lung, and kidney.
There is no need for moving, as it only causes tension,
Bullets and debris, still blasting off in all directions.
But they matter to me not
As I lie dying in this spot.
The cold concrete on my back; I feel my heartbeat in my boots;
I hear off beyond the wall a sergeant ordering to shoot;
And it all I seem to understand and covet with unfamiliar ease,
Yet that crisp realization covets all the curiosity in me.
And then I see across the absence, in a huddle under a tree,
Among the haze that lingered above the scars that were scored out of the street
And through the black serpentine smolder of a bombed out army Jeep,
The chard and rag-clad corpse of an Iraqi, nigh fourteen.
Then that crisp realization seems to transcend into bitter,
And it’s sweet flowing taste I am forced to reconsider.
For whom am I amid a world quite tamed by man or beast,
Who upon the slightest proclivity of a whim may conduct a thing to cease?
For in that moment I lay dying, so too were hundreds more:
Trees, insects, stones erode, cells, and distant stars;
Metaphorically, physically, mentally, emotionally;
The ultimate integer of greed, mistake, or infidelity.       
Yet those who push their carts and tote their baskets past the case
That contains sectioned off and price tagged pieces on polystyrene trays,
Disregard the fact that they once belonged to beings of the same
Flesh and butchered bone that now lay wrapped in cellophane.
And tomorrow will be another day for hundreds more to die 
At the hands of the ever more resourceful equations of demise.
Their numbers spill out into a symphonic cacophony,
And who stands there wielding the baton, but man, impeccably.
I feel the corner of the wall at my shoulder vibrate into detritus  
As an RPG-7 disintegrates against the buildings partitions.
With concrete raining all around, an officer approaches cautiously
And huddles down with rifle drawn to cover me.
But seeing my present shade of blue and the blood soaked into my thighs,
He grasps the crisp realization that I am about to die.
Looking once more all around as the ground trembles under continuous tracks,
He props his gun against the wall and wraps his arm around my back.
Holding the back of my neck with his hand, he watches as my eyes grow dim
And drowsiness envelopes me, as the world begins to spin.
I reach up and draw him near to me to whisper my final breath,
Which I conjured using all my might and the last thought in my head:                 

“Do not ask for whom the bell tolls:
It tolls for thee
And crown thy good, with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!”