We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
for Hayden Carruth
Watching TV, reading Twilight of the Idols,
as usual looking for a clue to what to do
or think or what kind of man to be and who
should I really read to find what I seek and use it,
at least fifteen books open on my desk,
a coffee cup, my pens, my desperate notes
not to forget CoQ-10, toilet paper, wheatgrass,
then back to a western, any violence will do,
then out to buy chili, milk, cheese,
egg salad, thinking nothing (Zens say do this),
wondering why it all turned out like this
instead of my deep fantasies of cash and condo,
rich piece of ass supporting me in style
while poem after poem flows out of me, screw
perfectly each time, spinning her head off, then
stumble on “The Four Great Errors,” section 8:
“One has deprived becoming of its innocence if being
in this or that state is traced back to will, to intentions,
to accountable facts…Men were thought of as ‘free’
so they would become guilty…Christianity is a hangman’s
metaphysics…No one is accountable for existing at all,
or for being constituted as he is, or for living
in the circumstances and surroundings in which he lives….
The fatality of his nature cannot be disentangled
from the fatality of all that which has been and will be….
In reality purpose is lacking…One is necessary,
One is a piece of fate, one belongs to the whole,
One is in the whole…” and think—That’s it!
Everything stays the same is the truth of truths;
everything changes whether you believe it or not.
Take today with its bright saucepan sky, humidity,
September dying into itself, each leaf
hitting the ground, clouds scurrying across, desire
attached to nothing possible anymore.
Take it and do what? It is, each leaf
A separate koan to be solved by nature.
Maybe that’s the right way to think of things.
No-mind. 3 o’clock. Reality a pure question.
Upstairs my tenant running the clothes dryer.
Propped up next to Whitehead’s The Function of Reason
Dogen’s Shobogenzo next to a snapshot of Sydney and Ivy
crawling through a yellow nylon tunnel smiling at me.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Draconian individual punishment distracts from systemic change and reinforces the cruelest and most racist system of incarceration on the planet.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.
“I was my father’s son. My father was Nai Nai’s least favorite.” A Taiwanese American man, driven from home by a secret, reevaluates his childhood memories of his grandmother.