Hozier, Monomania, Monsters, Melville, Literature, Layers, & Movement49 min read

It was the anniver­sary of Moby Dick’s pub­li­ca­tion.  15 November 1851.  The song was released on 15 November ’18.  This has to mean some­thing, but I don’t care what.  There’s a clarity that tran­scends absolutes, and defining some­thing too rigidly is to assume own­er­ship of it.  When the mean­ing’s gone, there is clarity.  Instead, I offer acknowl­edge­ment of the sig­nif­i­cance, a grin and a nod, and I move for­ward.

Whenever we pro­ceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to under­stand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word “under­standing.”
‑Werner Heisenberg, quantum physi­cist

Consider this a con­tent warning for all the things you don’t want to see if there is any­thing you don’t want to see.  It’s dark and scary in this forest.  If you don’t like gra­tu­itous schaden­freude and sac­ri­lege, you prob­ably need to leave now.  Run fast.  Don’t cast your pearls before this swine.

There’s a mono­ma­ni­acal, icon­o­clastic aspie on the prowl, drunk off the fer­mented fruit of the tree of knowl­edge of good and evil.  #fullonAhab — Did I do that right?

On masking

There are a lot of people talking about masking right now.  It’s a hashtag buzz­word.  They take off their mask and that means they stop putting on a brave face, that they are somehow more their true selves in public.  They dress up like a fairy or uni­corn, or they stop hiding their tat­toos, or they allow them­selves to not do the thing that they don’t want to do.  Good for them.

It means some­thing else to me to be unmasked, though.  No other ver­sion of me could I pre­tend to be tonight

Like, the fact that my favorite part about myself is unadul­ter­ated, unapolo­getic mad­ness. I love that I get lost in mono­ma­ni­acal scav­enger hunts, and that I laugh at dark­ness.  I’m not afraid of your scorn.  Nothing about you scares me.  There’s nothing you can take from me.  That’s my favorite part about myself.  You can have no own­er­ship of me nor my tra­jec­tory.  Your opinion about my brain is comedy.

This is long, and best digested slowly and in pieces.  There is no point or sum­mary, and the only meaning to be found here is fil­tered through the his­tory and bag­gage of your mind’s eye.  Instead of expecting to arrive at a con­clu­sion, just expect to dive and explore.  I put this out there hoping to make con­tact, to move with you for a moment.

There’s some­thing in me, some­thing innate, that feels kin­ship with pho­tons and elec­trons.  I imagine love as the neg­a­tive charge of an elec­tron, the quanta that hold the uni­verse together.  Whatever that innate thing in me is, I cannot exist sep­a­rately from it.

I love what’s beau­tiful and strange and indig­nant and defiant.  Sick.  Deformed.  Divergent.  Otherworldly.  Monstrous.  I was born sick, but I love it.

Hozier’s music has res­onated with me since the first instant I heard it, an imme­diate recog­ni­tion of a mind that is struc­tured like mine and one that is an archi­tect of syntax and sound.  I hear and read in layers, like a pat­tern recog­ni­tion of dimen­sional con­struc­tion and a har­mony of alle­gor­ical themes and motifs which have been present since the earliest-recorded lit­er­a­ture.  The math, sci­ence, poetry, inven­tion, art, and prose is more a reflec­tion of love than what I sense in the world of the people around me.  It’s the work of mono­mania, a reflec­tion of the Collective spirit.

In most of these works of art and lit­er­a­ture, there’s a layer for everyone to see, a super­fi­cial and easily-digested façade that might or might not hint at the Truth of the matter. Then, there’s a layer for a few to see that gets at some­thing real and remon­stra­tive… and beyond that, there are inter­con­nected the­matic layers, which unify the whole as a cohe­sive state­ment… And by whole, I mean the work of the Truth-teller across cen­turies, the same threads which run through time and art and the human spirit.  They are a light on dark Truths.

It’s a fluke when one of us makes it into recog­ni­tion before we’re dead, though music has been the more-forgiving medium for escaping the excoriating-regulatory scorn from soci­ety’s most firmly-held insti­tu­tions and beliefs.  It was hard to imagine, though, that the lyri­cism so wrought with the iso­la­tion of being an out­sider, humble and irrev­erent, could be kept as pure and honest and res­olute after global stardom.

Because prop­er­ties change upon being observed, and because there are so many rules which have to be fol­lowed when we move among the masses.  Could it still be pos­sible to move within con­fines like that?

And then there was Nina Cried Power…

It’s not the waking, it’s the rising
It is the grounding of a foot uncom­pro­mising
It’s not for­goeing of the lie
It’s not the opening of eyes
It’s not the waking, it’s the rising

Well, okay.  Cool.

It didn’t take him long to estab­lish that he was uncom­pro­mising.  And then he gives homage to those rev­o­lu­tion­aries who have used their super­powers for more than fame or wealth.  And there’s Mavis Staples, beau­tiful, indomitable force of light and power– Mavis who has been working for twice the span of Hozier’s life­time for freedom.  This is how to pay tribute without cul­tural appro­pri­a­tion.  It is how to honor an other, with def­er­ence and rev­er­ence.

And the layers are still there, but they’re brighter, kinetic, real­ized.  And I see a his­tory in layers.  The bringing of the line, the Vendaranyam Salt March, Bloody Sunday, and this guy:

And power is my love when my love reaches to me.

And then the video!  People like us, wearing head­phones, being pro­foundly moved by the music lay­ered the same way that time is lay­ered.

Disobedience is the true foun­da­tion of lib­erty. The obe­dient must be slaves.
‑Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience

And the EP has a song called “A Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue).”  That right there is a whole sym­po­sium of dog whis­tles.

Taken from Hozier’s Facebook page

And that’s all cur­sory and neb­u­lous, but back to the mono­mania.  Hozier’s newest song, “Movement.”  So, the day before the song is released, an image is posted on his social media of Hozier, with a book, under water.  Thus, begins the journey, or at least the punc­tu­a­tion mark on the journey… the inter­robang.

Since the song is to be released on the anniver­sary of Moby Dick’s release, of course the under­water imagery pinged some­thing in my brain like an internal aurora bore­alis, a synes­thetic Light show.  I had to find the book.  I couldn’t see the word on the front, but I knew I’d seen this book before.  I often have this feeling, though it can’t be true that I have seen it before.  Yet, it’s somehow familiar.  It’s in colors that are my bliss, too.

So, I started searching for the book with no other clue but a hunch that it was somehow the­mat­i­cally nau­tical.  I fol­lowed my internal com­pass… my astro­labe.

When I enlarged the image, I could tell that the text on the front had been Photoshopped.  There was a pur­poseful blur over what had been words, with only one word promi­nent.  The let­ters were a dif­ferent layer, slightly more pro­nounced than the book.  I couldn’t make out more than the last two let­ters, maybe three: REE.  Best guess was K or X, some­thing, “REE.”  I went through every word in every lan­guage in every pos­sible com­bi­na­tion of let­ters trying to find it.  Nothing res­onated except one word, but it felt like a stretch.  So, I decided to come back to that later.

Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it car­ries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries–stand that man on his legs, set his feet a‑going, and he will infal­libly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this exper­i­ment, if your car­avan happen to be sup­plied with a meta­phys­ical pro­fessor. Yes, as every one knows, med­i­ta­tion and water are wedded for ever.
‑Melville, Moby Dick

Eventually, after a ridicu­lous number of con­fig­u­ra­tions of nau­tical terms and searching for anti­quarian books, I noticed a name which seemed to stand out to me from the others.  My brain does this… brings things of sig­nif­i­cance to the fore­ground.  I have the depth per­cep­tion of a cyclops.  I have a visu­ospa­tial IQ in the “dis­abled” range, but I see those things which are worth seeing in per­fect clarity and dimen­sion.  Pattern recog­ni­tion?

We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The ques­tion that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being cor­rect.
‑Niels Bohr, quantum physi­cist

The name, Frank T. Bullen, seemed to almost bio­lu­mi­nesce in the middle of a sea of blurred and mean­ing­less text.  It was worth a shot, and I’ve learned to follow some­thing that feels a little more sub­stan­tial and pur­poseful than instinct, but which can’t be con­sid­ered to be fully-conscious.

Almost on reflex, I typed in the search bar: Melville Frank T. Bullen

Bingo!  Bullen wrote novels of whaling and was inspired by Moby Dick.  I went through the list of books written by Bullen, and one brought itself to the fore­front of my focus: A Son of the Sea.  Ah, the anachro­nistic mariners… There’s a feeling of kin­ship for me, and for many of us, with those who have gone before, those of the same Stripe.

Though log­i­cally, lit­er­ally, it’s not in my lin­eage, I feel, at the level of my soul like I am a rel­a­tive of Melville.  There are many others, too, who feel like family.  I know them when I see them, rec­og­nize them as my people.  Mavis feels like my people, too.  Mavis, who left her hus­band because he told her to stay home and stop giving her music to the world.  Mavis has always done the work.

Like Perth, the old Blacksmith from Moby Dick.  More on that in Time…

A google image search, and there it was.  I had to have it, and not just any ver­sion of it.  I had to have that exact cover, because there might be some clue in there.  I found one copy in the world with this par­tic­ular cover, and imme­di­ately bought it.

I felt a wave of sad­ness, though, that no one had beaten me to the punch; or that there were others who had, but they might not have been able to afford it.  Truly, I wasn’t either.

47242404_509564352895612_5620900996801626112_n

I wonder if there’s some Truth in these pages, or if the tome was just a cat­a­lyst to guide me to Melville.  Or Theseus, son of Poseidon, the great reformer who sought to dis­mantle oppres­sive social and reli­gious norms?  All I knew was that the word, par­tially obscured by a thumb, was sup­posed to point me some­where.

Or, was it just enough to encourage me to stay the course?  I stayed the course, even though ini­tially, I was wrong.  A higher res­o­lu­tion image came out, and it was clear that the book was The Gold of Chickaree.  Same cover, same pub­lisher, same era.  It was the first book I found when doing searches, but the writing was ter­rible, the story was trite, and it didn’t match the theme of Hozier’s Work.  It was just for the title, though.  The gold was in the word, chickaree.

And, on another binge of mono­ma­ni­acal hyper­focus, the sun rose on my curiosity.  I sleep some­where between 8–16 hours per week, most weeks.  I’ve strug­gled my whole life with sleep­less­ness, not seeming to require much more than 2 or 3 hours per night but feeling like it was an imper­a­tive.  Now, I just go without and accept it.

I feel despair that I need to eat or sleep at all, those banal­i­ties and rou­tines which pull me away from the manic rhap­sody of a quest for Truths. At 12:01 noon, November 15, I opened the video.

Until this point, I had no idea if my mono­mania train were on the right track.  I had no idea on what ground I was foundedI could have just spent these intense hours with fifty browser win­dows open and ordering books from dis­tant coun­tries to sail in the wrong direc­tion.

Then, the first verse:

I still watch you when you’re groovin’
As if through water from the bottom of a pool
You’re movin’ without movin’
And when you move, I’m moved
You are a call to motion
There, all of you a verb in per­fect view
Like Jonah on the ocean
When you move, I’m moved

This all means so many things in so many layers.  My mind begins to pull things out of the stores of mem­o­ries, some of which are mine.  This comes first, a con­ver­sa­tion had with a friend, Ben, with whom I recently con­nected.  This was our first con­ver­sa­tion.  You know… we’re not great at small talk and bound­aries.  I guess it is because we are socially inept.  He has a vision for a novel, and below he attempts to sum­ma­rize a part of that vision:

gem

In the Bible, Abraham has sex with, Hagar, his Egyptian slave ( his wife’s idea ), in the hopes of bearing a son.  His wife, Sarai, doesn’t like it when Hagar becomes preg­nant, so Sarai abuses the preg­nant slave until Hagar runs away.  This, from Genesis 16, KJV:

wild

The wild child, call him Ishmael.  The child everyone will be against.  But, God didn’t estab­lish a covenant with Ishmael, since Ishmael was not a pure­blood.

And more from Ben:

Screenshot_2018-11-20 Messenger

Screenshot_2018-11-20 Messenger(1)

sea

So, yeah… it’s true that we’re bad at small talk.  And yes, this is a first con­ver­sa­tion with someone from online about whom I knew nothing more than to see a three-line com­ment about col­lec­tivism in the workplace.  Within min­utes, we were talking about Marx, another one of us.  And a few min­utes beyond, the quantum.  We didn’t ask about where the other lived, how old the other was, single or not, kids or not, degrees and jobs.

I sup­pose that is an indi­cator of our low social and emo­tional intel­li­gence, right?

And now that I know to trust myself, I follow my instinct and find the others.  This brand of first con­ver­sa­tion was not unique for me.  I feel that I have con­nected with family when this hap­pens, or some­thing even more sub­stan­tial than family, that I have found another piece of myself.  Honey, you’re familiar, like my mirror years ago…

Anyway, I thought of Ahab there, on the bottom of the ocean, watching.  Ben had talked about seeing our­selves in other iter­a­tions, past and future mem­o­ries, in other bodies, as if through a watery reflec­tion at a point of zero energy.  There’s more that comes to mind, some­thing more fluid and deeply per­sonal, but that’s a Truth not for defining.

Throughout the whole absurd life I’d lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from some­where deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind lev­eled what­ever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living.
‑Camus, The Stranger

So, Jonah on the ocean was con­fir­ma­tion that I was moving in the right direc­tion.  In Moby Dick, there’s a pastor who delivers a sermon about obe­di­ence to authority and not trusting one’s own con­science.  It’s a fiery parody of evan­ge­lism, a reflec­tion of the status quo to require sub­mis­sion.  A swollen order means a prayer in per­fect parody.

Jonah rebelled, though.  He boldly defied God and ran from his orders, and then he con­fronted God with his rage, in an irre­sistible string of invec­tive.

When you move
I’m put to mind of all that I want to be
When you move
I could never define all that you are to me

This is how I feel about all of the activists, all of the people out there who never sleep and never stop working for the common good, for the vul­ner­able, against oppres­sion and greed and injus­tice.  You whose heart would sing of anarchy…  I wonder how he found the people for the video for Nina Cried Power, those who suffer and tire, but who never acqui­esce.  I weep at the talent and move­ment and Work of someone with the courage to live boldly.

And the line, I could never define all that you are to me.  This is not a greeting card sen­ti­ment.  This goes back to the begin­ning, to the arro­gance of defining that which cannot be mea­sured and should not be defined.

After Moby Dick, Melville pub­lished a novel called Pierre; or, the Ambiguities, in which the pro­tag­o­nist hap­pens upon a text titled, “Chronometricals and Horologicals,” which details how God’s clock is mea­sured by chrono­met­rical time, and man’s clock is mea­sured by horo­log­ical time.  The text decries absolutes [ my church offers no absolutes ], drawing the analogy of the horo­log­ical clock and that its time in one land would be mid­night, and such an absolute would have another man in a dis­tant country going to bed at noon.

He sug­gests that no man can follow the absolutes, that they couldn’t give all they have to the poor and spend their lives in ser­vice and doing the work of God because it is not con­ve­nient or prac­ti­cable to their lifestyles; how­ever, some­times, as an example, God sends a mes­senger (as a mete­oric stone), set to chrono­met­rical time, in what seems a futile attempt because those set by a horo­log­ical clock will be offended by it and will all work against this mes­senger aligned with God’s divine time.

wild

Pierre is out­cast from his family because he learns that he has a half-sister, Isabel, who is the ille­git­i­mate and orphaned child of his father and a refugee.  Pierre is sup­posed to marry a blonde upper-class woman whom his mother sees as a fit.  Isabel is wild, with untamed, dark hair and olive skin.

He tells his mother that he is mar­ried to Isabel in an attempt to cir­cum­vent the unjust inequal­i­ties of his half-sister’s fate.  And, he is exiled… like Ahab and his pagan anathema of a wife, Jezebel.  He is Ishmael, the son of Abraham and his slave Hagar, ban­ished and denied inher­i­tance.  Cain fleeing Eden, marked for eter­nity.  I slith­ered here from Eden just to pine out­side your door.  He’s Esau, denied his birthright and inher­i­tance for mar­rying not one, but two Hittite women.  Esau’s par­ents were pissed.

And though I need not go far­ther into the lit­er­a­ture, there is some­thing from Lord Byron’s The Corsair, Canto I, which should be shared:

Fear’d—shunn’d—belied—ere youth had lost her force,
[ I need to be youth­fully felt, ’cause God, I never felt young ]
He hated man too much to feel remorse—
And thought the voice of wrath a sacred call,
To pay the injuries of some on all.
He knew him­self a villain—but he deem’d
The rest no better than the thing he seem’d;
And scorn’d the best as hyp­ocrites who hid
Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did.⁠
He knew him­self detested, but he knew
The hearts that loath’d him, crouch’d and dreaded too.
Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt
From all affec­tion and from all con­tempt

There, again, back to Ishmael and Ben’s wild chil­dren.  Pierre is stricken with Isabel, feeling an intense mag­netism that ren­ders him non-verbal.  She says to him:

This it is, that even now—this moment—surrounds thy vis­ible form, my brother, with a mys­te­rious mist­i­ness; so that a second face, and a third face, and a fourth face peep at me from within thy own. [ There, all of you a verb in per­fect view. ] Now dim, and more dim, grows in me all the memory of how thou and I did come to meet. I go groping again amid all sorts of shapes, which part to me; so that I seem to advance through the shapes; and yet the shapes have eyes that look at me. I turn round, and they look at me; I step for­ward, and they look at me.—Let me be silent now; do not speak to me.

Isabel attempts to explain to Pierre her life and her thoughts, but she is inter­mit­tently non-verbal.  Melville writes often of those who go “mute,” assigning those char­ac­ters, like Ahab, a meta­phys­ical quality.

All human beings have three lives: public, pri­vate, and secret. — Gabriel García Márquez

It takes her a long time to gather her thoughts, but he waits with per­fect rev­er­ence for her to speak, a prayer in per­fect piety.  There’s a liet­motif throughout the whole text, as if being ren­dered non­verbal is to align with that which is divine.  She tells him:

I have suf­fered wretched­ness, but not because of the absence of hap­pi­ness, and without praying for hap­pi­ness. I pray for peace—for motionlessness—for the feeling of myself, as of some plant, absorbing life without seeking it, and existing without indi­vidual sen­sa­tion. I feel that there can be no per­fect peace in indi­vid­u­al­ness. Therefore I hope one day to feel myself drank up into the per­vading spirit ani­mating all things. I feel I am an exile here. I still go straying.

And therein lies the intense desire to belong to a col­lec­tive spirit, like the indi­vid­u­alism of being is a pro­fanity against the nature of God.  Individualism gives rise to supremacy, greed, and egoism.  Collectivism is an acknowl­edge­ment that the thing which makes us alive, and free, is alive in all of usThe whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

She goes on to tell her tale, a story of incred­ible hard­ship, and this is Pierre’s expe­ri­ence:

ENTRANCED, lost, as one wan­dering bedaz­zled and amazed among innu­mer­able dancing lights, Pierre had motion­lessly lis­tened to this abundant-haired, and large-eyed girl of mys­tery.

And, I can imagine now how this made the critics so viciously accuse Melville of insanity.  Isabel reaches a point where she feels that words are no longer capable of com­mu­ni­cating to Pierre:

“Bring me the guitar!”

Starting from his enchant­ment, Pierre gazed round the room, and saw the instru­ment leaning against a corner. Silently he brought it to the girl, and silently sat down again.

“Now listen to the guitar; and the guitar shall sing to thee the sequel of my story; for not in words can it be spoken. So listen to the guitar.”

Instantly the room was pop­u­lous with sounds of melo­di­ous­ness, and mourn­ful­ness, and won­der­ful­ness; the room swarmed with the unin­tel­li­gible but deli­cious sounds. The sounds seemed waltzing in the room; the sounds hung pen­du­lous like glit­tering ici­cles from the cor­ners of the room; and fell upon him with a ringing sil­very­ness; and were drawn up again to the ceiling, and hung pen­du­lous again, and dropt down upon him again with the ringing sil­very­ness. Fire-flies seemed buzzing in the sounds; summer-lightnings seemed vividly yet softly audible in the sounds.

And still the wild girl played on the guitar; and her long dark shower of curls fell over it, and vailed it; and still, out from the vail came the swarming sweet­ness, and the utter unin­tel­li­gi­ble­ness, but the infi­nite sig­nif­i­can­cies of the sounds of the guitar.

The full text of Pierre; or, the Ambiguities can be read on The Project Gutenburg.

This sen­sory expe­ri­ence is synes­thesia.  It is almost iden­tical to how I expe­ri­ence some music.  And, there is a reason that the playing of the guitar was so rel­e­vant.  There, again, with Hozier’s, A Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue), in which this same sen­ti­ment is cap­tured.  I think of many things, but of Byron, here:

The gentle pres­sure, and the thrilling touch,
The least glance better under­stood than words,
Which still said all, and né’er could say too much;
A lan­guage, too, but like to that of birds,
Known but to them, at least appearing such
As but to lovers a true sense affords;
Sweet playful phrases, which would seem absurd
To those who have ceased to hear such, or né’er heard…
It reminds me of another first con­ver­sa­tion I had with a dear and spe­cial friend.  I saw a single com­ment on social media as a reply to a news article.  A single, unre­mark­able, yet defiant one-line com­ment.  But there was some­thing about it that seemed to come to the fore­ground.  It was the syntax, the archi­tec­ture of his thoughts, and how he con­structed that tiny sen­tence from some­where I’ve been.

I clicked his pro­file and could tell that it was a second self.  The birthday for the pro­file was July 19, 1969… the date two astro­nauts from Apollo 11 set foot on the moon.  There was intense anti-Trump and anti-fascism on the page, and Marx was in the pro­file pic­ture.  I knew he was my people.  I sent a mes­sage.

Our first con­ver­sa­tion moved quickly…

i knew it

There were like three lines of text before this.  It was full swing from there.  It was a col­li­sion of worlds, and I under­stand what Melville really wanted people to under­stand when they read Pierre.  The sala­cious incest and the soap opera drama was for the people he con­sid­ered to be ruled by horo­log­ical time.  That was the first layer.  The Truth was a dog whistle to his people, those on chrono­met­rical time.

It was the imme­diate kin­ship and lan­guage of finding your family, of a col­lec­tive spirit.  It’s finding a Truth in someone, rec­og­nizing another indig­nant sojourner dis­lodged and unmoored.

Within a few min­utes, He sent me a mes­sage with a link:  This is me playing my own com­po­si­tion.  So you can know me.

He wanted to be seen, and he hoped that he would be.  He was was showing me what he was trying to show the world through his novel, Passacaglia.

passacagliaPassacaglia is an ana­lyt­ical novel, an expe­di­tion into his­tory, love and memory, at once a meticulously-knit nar­ra­tive woven of multi-colored threads, at once a poetic feat of strength—a uniquely read­able and vir­tu­osic work. Passacaglia is a tapestry woven of five dif­ferent strands, orga­nized rhyth­mi­cally by the math­e­matics of site-shifting (the same math­e­matics that gov­erns jug­gling, gearing pat­terns and musical canon). Passacaglia’s nar­ra­tive threads, the­mat­i­cally diverse, inter­re­late to each other mys­te­ri­ously… and the site-shifting func­tion itself—9–1‑4–7‑3–4‑9–1‑4–7‑3–6 etc.—becomes a musical leit­motif throughout the novel, simul­ta­ne­ously col­oring it and gov­erning it. Time-bending, poet­i­cally styl­ized, pas­sionate, quirky and eru­dite, Passacaglia promises to com­bine pop­ular appeal with crit­ical acclaim, skill­fully shifting between the many sites and modes of memory and love, a tightly-structured air­space criss­crossed with five dis­tinct, crisp tra­jec­to­ries…

He hoped that some­thing in me would rec­og­nize some­thing in the com­po­si­tion, that I would know him by hearing it.  That I would rec­og­nize some­thing in it.  I did.

I explained to David my synes­thetic response, almost iden­tical to that of what Pierre expe­ri­enced.  And he didn’t doubt me, because he knew.  We were some­thing like family,  imme­di­ately.  All the mad­nessWe don’t under­stand proper bound­aries, you know?

david

And then, there was a woman who found me, or I found her, I’m not sure which.  Our chrono­met­ri­cals moved together, to borrow from Melville’s nomen­cla­ture.  She was pulled into the Aspergian.  First, she writes about being an evil twin, the one who was not favored, who could never be in sync with her family and those around her.  She muses how though she was not plot­ting or scheming, people defaulted to the “good and evil” dividers.

It’s not the wall but what’s behind it
The fear of fellow men, his mere assign­ment
And every­thing that we’re denied
By keeping the divide
-Hozier, from Nina Cried Power

And then, she writes the first cre­ative piece for the site, act one of a play, The Time Trials of Jonathon Hood. In the play, there are some people, some aspies, born with the ability to bend time.  The past and future are of no con­se­quence to them, but they are fitted with time­pieces that force them to be syn­chro­nized with everyone else.  They are heavily mon­i­tored.

From Melville’s Chronometricals and Horologicals:

It seems to me, in my visions, that there is a cer­tain most rare order of human souls, which if care­fully car­ried in the body will almost always and every­where give Heaven’s own Truth, with some small grains of vari­ance. [ … ] Now in an arti­fi­cial world like ours, the soul of man is fur­ther removed from its God and the Heavenly Truth; […]so the chrono­metric soul, if in this world true to its great Greenwich in the other, will always, in its so-called intu­itions of right and wrong, be con­tra­dicting the mere local stan­dards and watch-maker’s brains of this earth.

There’s a thread– people who were rejected and met with incred­ible obsta­cles and oppo­si­tion during their tur­bu­lent lives; but their lega­cies and the wisdom they’ve left behind have been invalu­able for our society.  Their Work.  Their pas­sion and courage to chal­lenge the status quo and per­sist in tire­less rebel­lion against the lies society assented to accept in com­plicity, were not rewarded during their lives.  Melville was regarded as insane.  Even until today, Ahab is regarded as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of egoism and mental ill­ness.

Seriously, you all can’t under­stand fig­u­ra­tive lan­guage or abstract metaphors… It’s because your brains are broken. 

It’s a sin­ister thing to project your lim­ited per­cep­tions onto the Work of others.

Your chief char­ac­ter­istic … Singleness of pur­pose
Your idea of hap­pi­ness … To fight
Your idea of misery … Submission
The vice you excuse most … Gullibility
The vice you detest most … Servility
‑Karl Marx

There are more authors and vision­aries who are sum­moned to my con­scious­ness by Movement and the threads it fol­lows, like Yeats, Byron, Shakespeare, Heaney, Wilde, John Gardner, Hermann Hesse, John Kennedy Toole, and so many other others.  Like Thoreau.  I’ll get to him in a little while.

So move me, baby
Shake like the bough of a willow tree
You do it nat­u­rally
Move me, baby

But, of course, there is always HamletOphelia, beset with grief and wan­dering around with her bou­quet of out­cast flowers (weeds and net­tles), meets her untimely death after falling from the splin­tering bough of a willow tree.  It brings to mind, too, per­haps a nod in the first cou­plet: I still watch you when you’re groovin’/As if through water from the bottom of a pool.

You are the rite of move­ment
Its rea­sonin’ made lucid and cool
I know it’s no improve­ment
When you move, I move
You’re less Polunin leapin’
Or Fred Astaire in sequence
Honey, you, you’re Atlas in his sleepin’
And when you move, I’m moved

I think that every word is so pro­foundly sig­nif­i­cant here.  Reasoning is the only way to empathize with others, and to approach upright­ness… or rather to defy tra­di­tional morality.  All supremacy and oppres­sion is grounded in the absence of reason, of trying to define with absolutes what “should” be or what is.

Melville believed that instead of trying to create or adhere to absolutes, we should embrace Ambiguities.  We should learn the limits of our per­cep­tion and instead work to under­stand and reason what is the eth­ical high ground and how that can trans­late dif­fer­ently for other people in dif­ferent cir­cum­stances.

And Camus had his own brand of the vague as Absurdity. From The Myth of Sisyphus:

The absurd is lucid rea­soning noting its limits [ … ] I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that tran­scends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impos­sible for me just now to know it.

Sergei Polunin was the star of the British Royal Ballet, but his art and his pas­sion were being sti­fled by the con­for­mity and the lack of meaning.  You who’d laugh at mean­ings guar­an­teed, so beau­ti­fully…  The world has pun­ished and pathol­o­gized him, spec­u­lating about his choices, his scars, his tat­toos, and his matu­rity level.

People with courage and char­acter always seem sin­ister to the rest. ‑Hermann Hesse

To them, con­for­mity to the status quo means matu­rity.  They don’t want to see him as a mon­ster.  As one of us.  Something in them wants to see him as reformed.   Still, he has fol­lowed that pas­sion with inten­sity, taking flight despite the weight of medi­oc­rity the world has attempted to impose on him.

And, right after I wrote this para­graph, I found this woman:

monster

I really met this beau­tiful soul, another aspie named Ra Butler, right in the middle of writing this, by pure hap­pen­stance, or Synchronicity.  Check her site’s mis­sion:

The Monster Heart Mission is all about bringing mon­sters from all walks of life together by cre­ating a shared iden­tity that we can con­nect to. We aim to facil­i­tate the recla­ma­tion of a term used for those pushed the far­thest from society and trans­form it into a way to com­mu­ni­cate unique­ness. We hope to give others who struggle to fit in access to a social and cre­ative outlet for their inner selves. We are all, at least, a little bit mon­ster.

Connect on social media with the hashtag #MonsterHeartMission

See the pat­terns forming?  See the col­lec­tive iden­tity, estab­lished through our Work?  Her mis­sion is the same as the mis­sion of the Aspergian.

When you move
I can recall some­thin’ that’s gone from me
When you move
Honey, I’m put in awe of some­thin’ so flawed and free

Still, he has fol­lowed that pas­sion with inten­sity, taking flight despite the weight of medi­oc­rity the world has attempted to impose on him.

We need the tonic of wild­ness [… ] At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mys­te­rious and unex­plorable, that land and sea be indef­i­nitely wild, unsur­veyed and unfath­omed by us because unfath­omable. ‑Thoreau, from Walden

Yes, HDT… that tonic of wild­ness, a cure I know that soothes the soul, does so impos­sibly

The best lack all con­vic­tion, while the worst
Are full of pas­sionate inten­sity.
‑Yeats, from “The Second Coming”

Fred Astaire was another who chal­lenged the status quo and was known for his per­fec­tionism and oth­er­worldly rhythm, timing, pas­sion, accu­racy, and exacting archi­tec­ture of art.  He insisted that dance was about advancing the story and adding depth to it, not a sen­sa­tional way to mind­lessly increase the enter­tain­ment value of some­thing.

From Fred Astaire’s auto­bi­og­raphy:

I have no desire to prove any­thing by it. [ like you’ve nothing left to prove ] I have never used it as an outlet or a means of expressing myself. I just dance. [ … ] When working on my chore­og­raphy I am not always recep­tive to out­side sug­ges­tions or opin­ions. I believe that if you have some­thing in mind in the way of a cre­ation, such as a new dance, a sequence, or an effect, you are cer­tain to come up with inac­cu­rate crit­i­cism and dam­aging results if you go around asking for opin­ions.

But this song wasn’t for per­formers, like Hozier him­self.  That was Nina Cried Power.  That was a recog­ni­tion of those whose moves are seen and acknowl­edged.  Movement is a love song for those holding up the world without recog­ni­tion…

You’re Atlas in his sleeping really hit me.  I’d had Atlas as my pro­file pic­ture (left) on social media for a couple months before this song was released, so hearing this line was a val­i­da­tion of my thread of rea­soning regarding syn­chronicity.

Atlas was the Titan who was cru­elly pun­ished by Zeus to hold the uni­verse on his shoul­ders for eter­nity.  Another Esau-Cain-Ahab-Ishmael-Sisyphus, he had engaged in a way against the Olympians, the gods.  He was a man of sci­ence, phi­los­ophy, math, and astronomy, the name­sake of the Atlantic Ocean.  His reason offended their super­sti­tions.

The thing that really sparked my curiosity was the depic­tion of Atlas as sleeping.  At first, I thought I heard, You’re Atlas when they’re sleeping, or You’re Atlas and they’re sleeping.  Why asleep, when the penalty for rebelling against the reli­gious estab­lish­ment is a tire­less task?

Perhaps the eas­iest part of my scav­enger hunt landed me with a musi­cian whose name is Sleeping at Last, and he has an unprece­dented approach to the pro­duc­tion of music which demon­strates a remark­able ded­i­ca­tion to sound and rel­e­vance and the kind of work and talent which can only come from someone so sin­gu­larly focused that he is his Work.  He has two years of projects enti­tled Atlas, with new songs releasing at least once per month.  Then, there’s this:

It’s ref­er­en­tial, at least in my per­cep­tion, of the lights and synes­thetic response men­tioned above by Melville.  Photons.  The lights, the pat­terns, the nods to per­cep­tion and the infi­nite, the Fibonacci sequence.… Anyway, watch that video.  You’ll be rapt, and you will see what I see when I listen to Hozier. It would be an exter­nal­iza­tion, a metaphor of Truths you can never hold or own, but  go read the Atlas I & II lyrics.

What Melville called Ambiguities, Keats called Negative Capability. He posited a Burden of Mystery theory, as described in a letter to John Hamilton Reynolds:

I com­pare human life to a large Mansion of Many Apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me—The first we step into we call the infant or thought­less Chamber, in which we remain as long as we do not think—We remain there a long while, and notwith­standing the doors of the second Chamber remain wide open, showing a bright appear­ance, we care not to hasten to it; but are at length imper­cep­tibly impelled by the awak­ening of the thinking principle—within us—we no sooner get into the second Chamber, which I shall call the Chamber of Maiden-Thought, than we become intox­i­cated with the light and the atmos­phere, we see nothing but pleasant won­ders, and think of delaying there for ever in delight: However among the effects this breathing is father of is that tremen­dous one of sharp­ening one’s vision into the heart and nature of Man—of con­vincing ones nerves that the World is full of Misery and Heartbreak, Pain, Sickness, and oppression—whereby This Chamber of Maiden Thought becomes grad­u­ally dark­en’d and at the same time on all sides of it many doors are set open—but all dark—all leading to dark passages—We see not the bal­ance of good and evil. We are in a Mist—We are now in that state—We feel the ‘burden of the Mystery,’ To this point was Wordsworth come, as far as I can con­ceive when he wrote ‘Tintern Abbey’ and it seems to me that his Genius is explo­rative of those dark Passages. Now if we live, and go on thinking, we too shall explore them. he is a Genius and supe­rior to us, in so far as he can, more than we, make dis­cov­eries, and shed a light in them—Here I must think Wordsworth is deeper than Milton.

This thread of thought has been present since recorded his­tory, being given dif­ferent names by dif­ferent greats.  The video from above, “Saturn” by Sleeping at Last, evinces the same Ambiguity as Yeats when he remarks, “The uni­verse was made/ just to be seen by my eyes.”  It’s a nod to the notion that the uni­verse is a dif­ferent thing through the per­cep­tive lens of every indi­vidual who expe­ri­ences it.

Some other musi­cians have touched on it, as does repeat­edly the artist, Sleeping at Last,   who even has a creation/origin story ref­er­encing the Garden of Eden enti­tled “Bad Blood.”  He leaves the lyrics as a series of ques­tions, refusing to pro­vide any expla­na­tion or answer for them.  He stirs up para­doxes and leaves them open (lyrics below):

You fixed your eyes on us
Your flesh and blood
A sculp­ture of water
And unset­tled dust

When there was bad blood in us
We learned our lessons
Genesis to the last gen­er­a­tion

So we wrestle with it all
The con­cept of grace
And the faithful con­crete
As it breaks our fall

Our ques­tions are all the same
Identical words; how they feel brand new
Against dif­ferent time frames
Identical words against dif­ferent time frames [… ]

We study our story arcs
Inherently good
Or were we broken right from the start?

Or hes­i­tant fin­ger­prints
Trace every moun­tain
Lace every valley
Until we’re con­vinced

We know it all by heart
Every blade of grass bears our mark

And, I wonder if Sleeping at Last has been inspired because he has read Camus, or because he is wired with the same per­cep­tive lens and col­lec­tive soul as Camus:

I realize that if through sci­ence I can seize phe­nomena and enu­merate them, I cannot, for all that, appre­hend the world. Were I to trace its entire relief with my finger, I should not know any more. And you give me the choice between a descrip­tion that is sure but that teaches me nothing and hypotheses that claim to teach me but that are not sure. A stranger to myself and to the world, armed solely with a thought that negates itself as soon as it asserts, what is this con­di­tion in which I can have peace only by refusing to know and to live, in which the appetite for con­quest bumps into walls that defy its assaults? To will is to stir up para­doxes. Everything is ordered in such a way as to bring into being that poi­soned peace pro­duced by thought­less­ness, lack of heart, or fatal renun­ci­a­tions.
‑Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

And this, from Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera:

Age has no reality except in the phys­ical world. The essence of a human being is resis­tant to the pas­sage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vig­orous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to any­thing, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.

I believe Sleeping at Last’s ref­er­ence of time frames and Gabriel García Márquez’s ref­er­ence to the eternal essence of the human spirit is a nod to the same intu­ition that Melville had regarding those who per­ceive God’s time (Chronometricals) as opposed to those who per­ceive it according to man’s social under­standing of time (horo­log­i­cals).

How won­derful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.
‑Niels Bohr, quantum physi­cist

Bohr is the quantum physi­cist respon­sible for his own ver­sion of Ambiguity, the theory of Complementarity, as demon­strated by wave-particle duality.  An elec­tron is some­times a wave and some­times a par­ticle, and the Truth is con­tin­gent on the observer’s per­cep­tion.  It’s quite applic­able to the genius-madness duality of Ahab, of which Bohr might respond:

Two sorts of truth: pro­found truths rec­og­nized by the fact that the oppo­site is also a pro­found truth, in con­trast to triv­i­al­i­ties where oppo­sites are obvi­ously absurd.
‑Bohr

And back to Hozier’s anthem, the pow­erful bridge:

Move like grey skies
Move like a bird of par­adise
Move like an odd sight come out at night

I felt a des­per­a­tion to chase these sym­bols and find their roots, entan­gled through layers of time and soil like the aslant willow tree in Hamlet.  The first time I had a con­ver­sa­tion with David Scaer, he was filming a time lapse of grey skies.

In Fiona Macleod’s Play, The Immortal Hour, in which an out­cast immortal feared even by the gods and faeries, Dalua, roams the forest driven by some unde­fined, unknown force:

Of thistle-gathered shingle, and sea-murmuring woods
Trod once but now untrod… under grey skies
That had the grey wave sighing in their sails
And in their drooping sails the grey sea-ebb,
And with the grey wind wailing ever­more
Blowing the dun leaf from the black­ening trees,
I have trav­elled from one dark­ness to another.

And from Balzac, Comedie Humaine:

Some lives are always dark, worked out under grey skies; but a glo­rious day when the sun fires a clear atmo­sphère was the image of the Maytime of their love, during which Etienne hung ail the roses of his past life round Gabrielle’s neck, and the girl bound up ail her future joys with those of her lord.

Then, in John Gardner’s novel, Grendel:

At the pool, fires­nakes shot away from me in all direc­tions, bristling, hissing, mys­te­ri­ously wrought up. They had sensed it too. That beat–steady, inhu­manly steady; inex­orable. And so, an hour before dawn, I crouched in shadows at the rocky sea-wall, foot of the giants’ work. Low tide. Lead-gray water sucked qui­etly, stub­born and delib­erate, at icy gray boul­ders. Gray wind teased leaf­less trees. There was no sound but the ice-cold surge, the cry of a gannet, invis­ible in gray­ness above me. A whale passed, long dark shadow two miles out. The sky grew light at my back. Then I saw the sail.

And, From Melville, in Benito Cereno, Part I:

The morning was one pecu­liar to that coast. Everything was mute and calm; every­thing grey. The sea, though undu­lated into long roods of swells, seemed fixed, and was sleeked at the sur­face like waved lead that has cooled and set in the smelter’s mould. The sky seemed a grey mantle. Flights of trou­bled grey fowl, kith and kin with flights of trou­bled grey vapors among which they were mixed, skimmed low and fit­fully over the waters, as swal­lows over meadows before storms. Shadows present, fore­shad­owing deeper shadows to come.

Three authors, three dif­ferent time periods, three nearly-identical excerpts.

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anony­mous.
‑Einstein

There are leit­mo­tifs which are present throughout more than just the lit­er­a­ture of the world.  Some of us are wired, born to rebel against the black-and-white (not grey) absolutes that exist to keep oppres­sion in place.  We long for a sea change in the status quo.

Move like a bird of par­adise, from Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers:

To the rarest genius it is the most expen­sive to suc­cumb and con­form to the ways of the world. Genius is the worst of lumber, if the poet would float upon the breeze of pop­u­larity. The bird of par­adise is obliged con­stantly to fly against the wind, lest its gay trap­pings, pressing close to its body, impede its free move­ments.

He is the best sailor who can steer within the fewest points of the wind, and extract a motive power out of the greatest obsta­cles. Most begin to veer and tack as soon as the wind changes from aft, and as within the tropics it does not blow from all points of the com­pass, there are some har­bors which they can never reach.

I sup­pose this will be a harbor they can never reach.  It’s their mind-blindness, poor souls.

And there’s the novel, Birds of Paradise, by Paul Scott.  I just hap­pened upon this book this week, and have not yet read it.  However, there’s an insightful article about it by Dr. T. S. Chandra Mouli on Boloji.com which sum­ma­rizes the cen­tral themes of the book.  Truth and the search for it, while main­taining the aware­ness of the limits of per­cep­tion to define absolutes, is a cen­tral theme.  It echoes heavily the sen­ti­ments of Camus’s notions of Lucidity and Absurdity, and in the rejec­tion of the com­fort of sys­tems of belief as a pur­poseful rebel­lion against the oppres­sion caused by those sys­tems:

  • the rela­tion­ship of the pri­vate lives of indi­vid­uals to his­tory; the rel­a­tivity of ‘truth’ as one knows it;

  • the epis­te­mo­log­ical ques­tion – the dif­fi­culty of arriving at truth; the iso­la­tion of indi­vid­uals;

  • the rela­tion of a man’s life to his voca­tion or career;

  • the lost child­hood and the quest for par­adise,

  • the dis­tinc­tion (and even the con­flict) between ‘the con­sumers’, who cul­ti­vate and sur­vive on illu­sions, and

  • the ‘questers’ dis­tin­guished by the inability to sus­tain their illu­sions; and

  • the real sym­bolic sig­nif­i­cance of man’s rela­tion­ship with the non-human nat­ural world.

The signal on which I have spent the most time, and per­haps the one which feels most open, is Move like an odd sight come out at nightOdd sight” is such a break from Hozier’s lex­icon, it is an obvious nod in a direc­tion.  But what direc­tion?  I feel the exact phrase is there, some­where, in the threads, though I can’t find it.  Maybe some benev­o­lent reader will direct me to it.

The first instinct I had was Grendel, and that is John Gardner’s Grendel.  He’s the rea­soned, Truth-seeking anti­hero mon­ster of the book, bearing the alle­gor­ical mark of Cain.  But I didn’t find that phrase there.  I thought maybe the Phantom of the Opera, Quasimodo, Frankenstein’s mon­ster, Gregor the giant beetle… I’ve looked in nearly every­thing Melville, Byron, Joyce, Eliot (T.S. and George), Ellison, Steinbeck, Heaney, Thoreau, Kafka, Camus, Wilde, Homer, Thackery, Yeats, Keats, Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Swift, Orwell, Wilde, Salinger, Cervantes, Tolstoy, Shelley, Coleridge, Hawthorne, Faulkner, Twain, Bronte (two of them) wrote.  I must’ve down­loaded and/or checked out and sub­se­quently returned hun­dreds of books.

I thought that Odd/God/Sight/Night might be part of a qua­train in poetry, but I didn’t know how to search some­thing like that.

I asked some friends and got some cool answers:  Comets, will-o-the-wisp, hermit crabs, aurora bore­alis, Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting (right), Truth Coming from the Well Armed with Her Whip to Chastise Mankind, Cyclops, a Minotaur in a labyrinth, UFOs, Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, sirens, Nosferatu, faeries, Gaiman’s American Gods, and many other rea­soned sug­ges­tions.

But, I felt a reaching– power is my love when my love reaches to me– back to Melville, back to Benito Cereno.  To this:

It might have been but a decep­tion of the vapours, but, the longer the stranger was watched, the more sin­gular appeared her manoeu­vres. Ere long it seemed hard to decide whether she meant to come in or no- what she wanted, or what she was about. The wind, which had breezed up a little during the night, was now extremely light and baf­fling, which the more increased the apparent uncer­tainty of her move­ments.

The above hap­pens right after the grey skies of Ambiguity quoted above from the same work.  As if on some phantom wind, the ship moves oddly, like it’s driven by a “baf­fling” oth­er­worldly force.  On the side, crudely chalked, is the Spanish phrase: Seguid vue­stro jefe, or in English, Follow your leader.  The story is an anti-racism, anti-slavery tale in which the slaves mutiny.  The Follow your leader sen­ti­ment was later elu­ci­dated when this hap­pened:

But by this time the cable of the San Dominick had been cut; and the fag-end, in lashing out, whipped away the canvas shroud about the beak, sud­denly revealing, as the bleached hull swung round toward the open ocean, death for the fig­ure­head, in a human skeleton; chalky com­ment on the chalked words below, “Follow your leader.”

The fig­ure­head, the oppres­sive cap­tain, is a warning to those who would seek to derail the move­ment.  It’s a nod to the rev­o­lu­tionary spirit of those no longer willing to be oppressed.  The chalky skeleton, the white slave trader, the white whale, the great mask of piety…

Swerve me? The path to my fixed pur­pose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of moun­tains, under tor­rents’ beds, unerr­ingly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way!
‑Ahab

Ahab’s first mate and foil, Starbuck, tries to sequester the pur­suit of the white whale.  He is the coun­ter­bal­ance to Ahab’s mono­mania and pas­sion.  He is a pic­ture of tra­di­tional morality, an upholder of it.  He first attempts to dis­suade Ahab by sug­gesting that the pur­suit of the white whale is not finan­cially viable, to which Ahab ripostes that Starbuck needs to see on another level and per­ceive the value of a dif­ferent type of cap­ital.  Then, Starbuck retorts:

“Vengeance on a dumb brute!” cried Starbuck, “that simply smote thee from blindest instinct! Madness! To be enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems blas­phe­mous.”

It seems blas­phe­mous?  Seems?  And in response, from Ahab:

Hark ye yet again — the little lower layer. All vis­ible objects, man, are but as paste­board masks. But in each event — in the living act, the undoubted deed — there, some unknown but still rea­soning thing puts forth the mould­ings of its fea­tures from behind the unrea­soning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How can the pris­oner reach out­side except by thrusting through the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near to me. Sometimes I think there’s naught beyond. But ’tis enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him out­ra­geous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale prin­cipal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blas­phemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jeal­ousy pre­siding over all cre­ations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play. Who’s over me? Truth hath no con­fines.

Movement is a love song to rev­o­lu­tion­aries the same as Nina Cried Power.

The video is as sym­bolic as are the lyrics, lev­eled in sig­nif­i­cance, like the tiered levels of the ware­house.  There are many inter­pre­ta­tions, but the real bril­liance of the video is in it’s capacity to demon­strate the per­cep­tive dif­fer­ences of the eyes watching the video.

angel_demon.jpgMost people, I imagine, will see the parable as a classic good-angel-bad-angel, per­ceiving the scarred, tat­tooed ver­sion as aggres­sive and abu­sive.  They will see his anger as threat­ening, his warm smile as an omi­nous leer.  They’ll see his inten­sity and power through a lens of sus­pi­cion, being innately repelled by the force of which he’s capable.

The one in white, like Starbuck in Moby Dick, could only pen­e­trate one level below the sur­face.  His moves are stunted, mediocre, and basic.  They lack orig­i­nality or fire.  To them, it’s unac­cept­able to stand out too much, so excep­tional can only be a single shade away from average.  So, for the sake of sim­plicity, we’ll call the self in white, with no tat­toos and no scars, Starbuck.  The one in red, with his scars, we will call Ahab.  The reflec­tion, call him Ishmael.  heh

in awe

Conformity sti­fles progress and pas­sion.  In the image (above), note Ahab’s super­human, oth­er­worldly arc.

Not a word he [ Ahab ] spoke; nor did his offi­cers say aught to him; though by all their minutest ges­tures and expres­sions, they plainly showed the uneasy, if not painful, con­scious­ness of being under a trou­bled master-eye. And not only that, but moody stricken Ahab stood before them with a cru­ci­fixion in his face; in all the name­less regal over­bearing dig­nity of some mighty woe.

And for the one frac­tion of a second, what hap­pens to moody Ahab when he is forced to be mun­danely in sync with Starbuck…

awkward

They say the awk­ward ones, but my second hand’s in sync…

There’s another leit­motif I have been fol­lowing, a par­allel aXis, con­cerning the “edge,” and what that means and what is beyond it.  I believe the willow in Hamlet, aslant between the water and the land, is that edge.  Sometimes, it ref­er­ences a sense of reality and a void beyond it, and some­times it is con­ceived as cheating by sui­cide, a way to expe­dite the journey and attain respite from the despair on the way to the next level.

edge

I will not fur­ther indulge the edge thread, nor the wall thread I began to tan­gen­tially chase…at least not here, save for this, of Perth and the suf­fering he has endured:

Death seems the only desir­able sequel for a career like this; but Death is only a launching into the region of the strange Untried; it is but the first salu­ta­tion to the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the immense Remote, the Wild, the Watery, the Unshored; there­fore, to the death-longing eyes of such men, who still have left in them some inte­rior com­punc­tions against sui­cide, does the all-contributed and all-receptive ocean allur­ingly spread forth his whole plain of unimag­in­able, taking ter­rors, and won­derful, new-life adven­tures; and from the hearts of infi­nite Pacifics, the thou­sand mer­maids sing to them —“Come hither, broken-hearted; here is another life without the guilt of inter­me­diate death; here are won­ders super­nat­ural, without dying for them. Come hither! bury thy­self in a life which, to your now equally abhorred and abhor­ring, landed world, is more obliv­ious than death. Come hither! put up thy grave-stone, too, within the church­yard, and come hither, till we marry thee!”

Hearkening to these voices, East and West, by early sun­rise, and by fall of eve, the blacksmith’s soul responded, Aye, I come! And so Perth went a‑whaling.

And back to Perth, and his move­ment, his Work, and how he was regarded by others:

Often he would be sur­rounded by an eager circle, all waiting to be served; holding boat-spades, pike­heads, har­poons, and lances, and jeal­ously watching his every sooty move­ment, as he toiled. Nevertheless, this old man’s was a patient hammer wielded by a patient arm. No murmur, no impa­tience, no petu­lance did come from him. [ No tired sighs, no rolling eyes, no irony/no who cares, no vacant stares, no Time for me] Silent, slow, and solemn; bowing over still fur­ther his chron­i­cally broken back, he toiled away, as if toil were life itself, and the heavy beating of his hammer the heavy beating of his heart.

The metonymy, the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Perth’s arm and hammer, his Work, as a reflec­tion of his whole self, his iden­tity, is a reflec­tion of the way my peo­ple’s iden­tity is con­structed, as opposed to the social belonging which under­scores most peo­ple’s iden­tity.  Perth toils under a chronically-broken back, like Atlas.  He holds up the uni­verse without acknowl­edge­ment… except from Ahab, who is per­ceived to lack empathy.  When no one else would ever notice that Perth isn’t scorched by the sparks that fly from his anvil when his hammer strikes it, Ahab asks about it:

“Because I am scorched all over, Captain Ahab,” answered Perth, resting for a moment on his hammer; “I am past scorching‑, not easily can’st thou scorch a scar.”

“Well, well; no more. Thy shrunk voice sounds too calmly, sanely woeful to me. In no Paradise myself, I am impa­tient of all misery in others that is not mad. Thou should’st go mad, black­smith; say, why dost thou not go mad? How can’st thou endure without being mad? Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can’st not go mad?”

It’s rem­i­nis­cent of this quote, from Melville, in a letter to a friend:

I do not oscil­late in Emerson’s rainbow, but prefer rather to hang myself in mine own halter than swing in any other man’s swing. Yet I think Emerson is more than a bril­liant fellow. Be his stuff begged, bor­rowed, or stolen, or of his own domestic man­u­fac­ture he is an uncommon man. [ … ] Now, there is a some­thing about every man ele­vated above medi­oc­rity, which is, for the most part, instinc­tuly per­cep­tible. This I see in Mr Emerson. And, frankly, for the sake of the argu­ment, let us call him a fool; — then had I rather be a fool than a wise man. —I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the sur­face, but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more; & if he don’t attain the bottom, why, all the lead in Galena can’t fashion the plumet that will.  I’m not talking of Mr Emerson now — but of the whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving & coming up again with blood­shot eyes since the world began.

I could readily see in Emerson, notwith­standing his merit, a gaping flaw. It was, the insin­u­a­tion, that had he lived in those days when the world was made, he might have offered some valu­able sug­ges­tions. These men are all cracked right across the brow. And never will the pullers-down be able to cope with the builders-up. And this pulling down is easy enough — a keg of powder blew up Block’s Monument — but the man who applied the match, could not, alone, build such a pile to save his soul from the shark-maw of the Devil. But enough of this Plato who talks thro’ his nose.

[ So tired tryin’ to see from behind the red in my eyes ]

Socrates died for Truth, where Plato fled to safety and then bas­tardized Soc’s phi­los­ophy and turned it into an elitist, com­plicit, safe, self-serving dogma.  So glad that Plato isn’t directing Hozier’s videos any­more…

Ahab wanted for Perth that he would find a pur­pose and rush toward it, like he’d nothing left to lose, and nothing to prove.

Anyway, enough about all that and back to the under­water pic­ture:

Will I have eyes at the bottom of the sea, sup­posing I descend those end­less stairs? ‑Melville’s Ahab

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Taken from Hozier’s Facebook page

I could never answer the ques­tions defin­i­tively, nor should I… but I will throw out where I landed, and what I saw.

The tattoo, Noli timere.  Seamus Heaney’s last words, don’t be afraid.

“CKAREE” could only be “chickaree.”  I know this from searching those let­ters in par­tial words in at least 60 lan­guages.  Yeah, mono­ma­ni­acal.  From Walden,

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Defying humanity to stop them…

And the grin:

A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambi­gu­i­ties.
‑Melville, in Pierre, or the Ambiguities

There was more, so much more, that I found on this mono­ma­ni­acal scav­enger hunt, but that’s for another time…

I am not sure why I’m putting this out there, but I pre­dict that it will remain in the shadows.  It’s my hope that it inspires someone residing in the dark places to chase their mad­ness down all the flights of stairs, or to empower someone to stop rejecting the best of them­selves.

Am I saying that Hozier has Asperger’s, or Melville, or Thoreau, or Camus?  No.  I could never define all that they are.  Neither should you.

No one has ever come close to get­ting it right with defining what it means to be an aspie, anyway.  I’m just saying that they are relat­able, to me, and most people aren’t.  I appre­ci­ated the scav­enger hunt.  I appre­ciate his courage and his mind.

My thoughts are feel­ings, and nothing here is a con­clu­sion.  It’s just an invi­ta­tion to explore a little, mutu­ally, in case anyone wants to add to the threads with his or her own con­tri­bu­tions.   My thoughts aren’t Hozier’s.  I can’t know what he means, exactly.  I can only filter what he has put out there through what I know and think.  I feel that I under­stand enough to know that he has pro­found insights, and it’s val­i­dating to feel common ground with someone who speaks my lan­guage.

And, I appre­ciate your mind.  If you made it this far, if any­thing in this madcap Jeremiad has caused your per­cep­tion to change about any­thing, or has shown you a new way to think and under­stand and feel, then I’d love to know.  This is a con­ver­sa­tion I would love to have.  I’m des­perate to have con­ver­sa­tions about some­thing that feels true.

But maybe, now, you can at least under­stand why we listen to the same songs over and over…

And, for fun… if you had any doubts about whether or not I am on the right path– of Ahab and his rep­u­ta­tion as a god­less, sinful, evil man:

But nothing about that thing that hap­pened to him off Cape Horn, long ago, when he lay like dead for three days and nights; nothing about that deadly skrim­mage with the Spaniard afore the altar in Santa? — heard nothing about that, eh? Nothing about the silver cal­abash he spat into?

And of Ahab’s wife:

So good-bye to thee — and wrong not Captain Ahab, because he hap­pens to have a wicked name. Besides, my boy, he has a wife — not three voy­ages wedded — a sweet, resigned girl. Think of that; by that sweet girl that old man had a child: hold ye then there can be any utter, hope­less harm in Ahab? No, no, my lad; stricken, blasted, if he be, Ahab has his human­i­ties!

And from the novel, Ahab’s Wife; or, The Stargazer, a his­tor­ical novel about Ahab based on the single para­graph about his wife, (as cited above) by Sena Jeter Naslund:

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Boys, when my baby found me
I was three days on a drunken sin
I woke with her walls around me
Nothin’ in her room but an empty crib
And I was burning up a fever
I didn’t care much how long I lived
But I swear, I thought I dreamed her
She never asked me once about the wrong I did

And from the first verse:

There’s nothin’ sweeter than my baby
I’d never want once from the cherry tree
’Cause my baby’s sweet as can be
She give me toothaches just from kissin’ me

And the last lines of Moby Dick, after a three-days chase of the whale:

Soon the two ships diverged their wakes; and long as the strange vessel was in view, she was seen to yaw hither and thither at every dark spot, how­ever small, on the sea. This way and that her yards were swung around; star­board and lar­board, she con­tinued to tack; now she beat against a head sea; and again it pushed her before it; while all the while, her masts and yards were thickly clus­tered with men, as three tall cherry trees, when the boys are cher­rying among the boughs.

But by her still halting course and winding, woeful way, you plainly saw that this ship that so wept with spray, still remained without com­fort. She was Rachel, weeping for her chil­dren, because they were not.

2 Comments

  1. So many threes! Love it, Terra, will try to gather some thoughts and chat more soon.

  2. Your mind is amazing. So many pow­erful con­nec­tions and find­ings … and the layers beneath this quest reawak­ened a deeper part of the me that is con­nected to the all. So glad to know you!

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