A bit about the Ghost Bird

20 10 2010

When will he return


Do not ask

In the film Ghost Bird the creature we are all waiting for

the creature I am waiting for?

appears only  in grainy black and white films and in the drawers of specimen cabinets.


It never really appears

It is a hole in the center of the film, as the absence of verified sightings (even after all the searching),  the absence of any real signs of the bird, is like the vanishing tail of the comet.

Nina is the vanishing

I wanted a place where the intersection of things = an individual bird.  I did not get that.  Instead I got the intersection of things (science, economy, environment, politics) that equaled an idea of a bird, of a presence out there where we are not.  I got a symbol.

We cannot seem to help ourselves, we turn everything into symbol

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker = Loss

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker = Hope

Into economy

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Sighting = $$

And because we turn everything into symbol, an entire film could be made, and a good one at that, about the vacuum extinction leaves and the way hope rushes to fill it.

The way I’d lost it.  The way she smelled.  The way I wanted to hold onto her little dead body.

There are extinctions of beings and extinctions of species.  For every kind of extinction, we make the creatures into something they are not because we will never have the clarity to know what they are.

quote by Ingeborg Bachmann


Infinite Jest–

13 10 2010

Time began to take on new aspects

Do you play chess?

When I first picked up Infinite Jest, years ago, I put it back down because, frankly, I was so over reading or thinking about drugs.

I mean I’d already done the “smoke pot every day to the extent that you can barely see the SAT test before you because there is a smokey haze in the air of the classroom or at least in between the test and your eyes.”

And I’d done the daily Jack Daniel’s thing–in my coffee and straight.  Smoked cigarettes, generally in bars because in those spaces they tasted especially good.

I’d been around meth addicts, coke heads, alcoholics and lots of folks who found recovery in AA.

But, when Infinite Jest came out, I was in graduate school studying biology and poetry and married, and no longer interested in the pseudo-art bad-girl shit that I associated with drugs

The only way your addict ever learns anything is the hard way

I’d forgotten about my reaction to the drug thing in the book, when recently, in response to another person referencing IJ in conversation, I had that sinking feeling of oh shit I’m so fucking tired of not having read that book. At home, I picked it the book up and, upon starting it, remembered my “anti-reading-about-drug-addiction” stance with s sort of punch in the gut.

When do I get to sit down

I don’t think you do

I’m reading it now, along with a nonfiction book about yoga and a book of poetry and perhaps also Pussy King of the Pirates by Kathy Acker because that is the one book by her I haven’t read and I’ve been in that sort of mood.

destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of Psst that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer

IJ is pertinent to me at this point, but whether that is a good or bad reason to read it, I’m not sure.   I do have to say, I feel like DFW’s ghost is sitting next to me as I read.

You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

This is the problem with reading the book afterwards.  I mean, after he killed himself.  Because, now every word is freighted with that knowledge, that he, even after years of treatment, couldn’t escape the flames.  Having been someone who has experienced the flames and only by the grace of [fill in the blank], meds and whatever else is no longer locked into a hell inside my own head, the idea that this incredibly gifted, intelligent man could not makes me deeply sad and also scares the shit out of me.

you own the stars

Anyway.  It is possible I will put the book back down.  Perhaps by doing this I won’t feel so much grief.

you own the thunder

But I doubt it.  I’ve plenty of stuff to feel shitty about and sad.  We will be putting the old cat to sleep soon–

that is just one thing

but you have to share

But you know the strange thing, is even in the grief, I’m not threatened by the flames.  I’m not where he was, or where Spalding Gray or Virginia Woolf were or even where I, myself, once was.  Inside.

you are already


quotes are from David Foster Wallace and The Bowerbirds

Las Vegas-Desire-FINAL

6 10 2010

When the cities lie at the monster’s feet there are left the mountains

I do not have much more to say about Las Vegas (at least I think not–at least the me that is me this moment does not)

I write on my lap

I did want to mention the “ghost town” of Bonnie Springs, Northwest of Vegas, near Red Rock Canyon.

the wind rocking the wagon

I wanted to be in a ghost town on this trip; Bonnie Springs was convenient.  But “ghost” is a bit of a stretch (as is “town”).  I didn’t feel the ghostliness I wanted.  Or rather, I only felt it in brief flashes, in the mustiness of the old schoolroom and in the vision of the rows upon rows of old shoes.


My great-great-grandmother must have worn shoes like these when she traveled East to West in a covered wagon.  I tried to make her come and stand near me by imagining her.  She didn’t come but I felt someone else standing near me because I knew the owners of these shoes were very dead.

there was no way of digging graves in the sunbaked ground

so the bodies were placed beneath a great pile of rocks

They were there and they were desire–and this is my last expression in these posts of Las Vegas and Desire.  For in Las Vegas, the oldest hotels are shabby and run down, despite being spit-shined.  Perhaps the ghosts live in their shabbiness but I’ve never felt them.  And generally, at least according to the guy that sat next to me on the plane home, once they’re 50 years old, the buildings are demolished and new shiny casino-hotels are built in their place so all the old ghosts have been chased out of the city.

They found the girl in her bark dress seated on the river bank

At the approach of white men

she buried herself in sand

And Las Vegas was also chasing the ghosts away from Bonnie Springs.  Though it was once a stop for wagon trains it is now a three-ringed circus complete with little kiddie train and petting zoo.  The rooms are staged with dummies or actors and the graveyard is made of wooden “stones” inscribed with the gimmicky epitaphs available in every drugstore’s halloween section.

she was a grieving, unsatisfied woman who somehow shook ones’ belief in civilization

I suppose I might explore more deeply my wild desire for connection to ghosts.  But I won’t go into detail now.  Suffice it to say that this isn’t a desire for a Madame Blavotsky style communion with the dead.  It is a desire for union with time.

we could not erase the wildlife

from her heart

quotes from Robinson Jeffers and Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey


Vegas, Desire Part 2?

3 10 2010

With a shower of rain

I suppose it is possible I have pica.

And the dead tree gives no shelter

Though I am taking a multivitamin, with iron and folate included, on a daily basis.

Purifier, place me

So my absolute craving to consume the sand and stone of this Nevada desert should not be from pica.  Should not.

Their foot shall slide

And today, as I drove out from Vegas just after sunrise, I saw the cactus and agave and desired to lay down and be pierced and I saw the cliff and I desired to drive off.

in that immortal, unfailing world

place me

This was not a desire for suicide.  I know that because I’ve experienced that sort of desire (which is not really desire at all–but rather more of a vacuum sort of thing).  It was desire for, OK, I’ll say it, a sort of Unification a sort of ax taken to the frozen sea within to take Kafka out of context.

the world is aflame!

All that sort of throwing of oneself, of consuming of being consumed, by the soil by the hills.  The fantasy of the birds resting upon one’s body, as part of what they do day by day, as they rest on trees.  This is wanting to be apiece with it all.


What I imagine the successful Buddhist practitioner, the successful yogi, the successful mystic, perhaps, to have achieved is a pure openness of that frozen sea so that it flows between what was once a self, and what was once the world.

your ecstasies have shone forth

All this, of course, without complete annihilation.  That is what makes the individual practitioner successful.

thirst has come upon

Of course, in Vegas, down in the casino, in the shows, on the Strip, one feels the freezing of that sea inside intensify.  The individual becomes more separated, more individualized.  And all the booze, and gambling, and naked bodies, rather than opening one up, serve as a severing knife.

the god that holds you over the pit of hell

loathes you

all is burning

thirst  has come

let it fly forth


quotes are from T. S. Eliot, The Rig Veda, The Fire Sermon, Jonathan Edwards

Vegas and Desire…part 1?

3 10 2010

What I desire are the red hills, the desert earth, the vanilla-scented ponderosa.  I drove out into the desert and felt desire sweep over me.  I walked into the hills and wanted to be with the land, to take the land, to consume it without destroying it. I wanted to walk in the heat until I passed out.  I wanted to melt into it.

Come into the shade

In Vegas, where I am, in the casinos and on the street, on signs and of course in shows, are the beautifully presented bodies of soft and shiny young women.  Breasts and buttocks playing peak-a-boo.  And, lucky me, there are also Chippendale’s men in my hotel.  Their shirtless images with half-zipped pants and dopey smiles line the walkway to the parking lot where I’ve kept my rental car.

of this red rock

And while many of these bodies look nice to the touch, what is odd to me, is that I cannot locate desire in all of the exposure or in all of the sexy dancing that takes place on stairs and boat/floats every evening in the casino.  It is all so sterile that parents bring their children to see the show and see the half naked ladies and gyrating men.

there is shadow under this red rock

I’m going back out to the rocks tomorrow because they satisfy something in me.  Does the simulation of desire that is Las Vegas satisfy something for anyone?

I will show you fear

I suppose that is the question.

in a handful of dust

Quotes are from T. S. Eliot