Waving Goodbye

Get in. Never mind the night around us. The night swim to end all night swims, now. Steel yourself. Never mind the cold (you’ll soon overcome it; forget it; know nothing of it). Yes, beyond the waves, but first through them; collision of blind water and body, then depths, perfectly indifferent, but lurkers in it. At any moment, a terrifying mouth. At any moment, the loss of up and down, and breathing water, and drowning. 

When I was a child, eleven or twelve, I think, and while visiting my dad in San Diego (for the weekend, as I did every other weekend), I asked, in the late evening, if I could go to “Children’s Cove” (a cove in La Jolla), to swim (and snorkel). My dad, a San Diegan since boyhood, and extremely comfortable with the ocean (under his influence, I was also extremely comfortable with the ocean), agreed to take me for a late-night swim. So, at 10pm, or 11pm (we were both night owls), I swam into the black ocean by myself, while my dad watched from the shore. 

I felt no fear, as with so many young animals, especially the predatory ones, the powerful ones. I swam fearlessly, heedlessly, wildly in a pitch-black wilderness of seawater. Then I saw it, clinging to submerged rock, rayed in moon-silver, my size, if not slightly larger; three or four of its tentacles were floating in the slow currents; the others spidered across the rock, suctioned in place. Again, no fear, but a simple sense that I ought to avoid this large (glowing grey!) octopus, so I paddled a u-turn and swam, without hurry, back to shore. That was the last time I swam the night ocean alone. As I aged, fear crept in. Thus it was—three or four tentacles waved goodbye to my naturalness. 


This is the ninth post of my Hephaisteion, and, as aleatory as my blog has been, a little commentary on its purposes may help my reader(s). Hephaisteion is a forge for my experimentation; to hear that published sound; to discipline it, and myself; to let go of discipline, too, if the mood unravels; to make fools of sentences. What are the purposes of play? Those are mine. When was the last time any of us played naked? Swam naked? Out of fashion, literally. 

But a private show isn’t as satisfying as a public performance; or, in my case, open to the public (the chairs are set up, at least, and the doors unlocked). An empty sheet of paper, displayed to the audience, suddenly fills with words, meanings even, and strange meanings, strange magic. What unseen hand writes on this blank page? What headless mind holds these thoughts, here materialized? “Charmer! Sorcerer!” The crowd cries out, seeing that the words now appearing are curses. “I hex all who see these words,” stains the page. 

Why should this audience be cursed? They came in good faith to watch our magician?—you may ask this, and perhaps having no good answer is the curse. Or, maybe, it is a favorable hex; must all curses be dismissed as unfavorable, especially in the long term? But here is my opinion, at last: the devil wrote these words, and he likes to frighten. He thinks writing that frightens is superior to writing that soothes. Perhaps his curse is just this: you will fear his curse. He loves to laugh, this devil. 


Much of him blames, but part of him forgives. Reflecting, much later, most of him forgives and part of him wishes he could never blame, but ascend and embrace, as an all-pathologizing god, the person’s whole life, worldline, fullness. Do I blame myself for blaming? Who do I say I am? I am a pantomimus, as all divinities are—as you are. No, you say? You think we are not gods? Or, if gods, together only Tlazolteotl, the deity with feces in her mouth.

Think of gods, of the unlimited. Incompleteness is a condition of that perfection, as I see it; it is a condition of the infinite. There is no utopia without plural imperatives, divergent initiatives, new contrarieties, and, tucked just below the heart, a fear of finales and totalities. The god-heart requires the varieties of mundane experience. It is the Renaissance paradox: the imperfection of perfection (and the reverse). 

So, as you imagine my appearance, especially that appearance in the act of writing, please imagine this: three-piece suit: frock coat, waistcoat, and trousers. An immoral amount of chenille pink. Vest of iridescent pink taffeta. Breeches of pink moire. Jabot of silver lace and pink satin ribbons. The surreal baroque glory of Fellini’s Casanova in pink. For I understand us at our happiest: our scent is rose, our grin sunlight, our divinity manifest. God: pantomimus with dandelions in every hand. 


On the North Sea, the River Esk through it, enwreathed in the North York Moors, Whitby be, shivery and twee. It is the world capital of my sehnsucht, being now too summer-laden for anything but fantasies of cold cloudy coasts, broodier the better. Ah, I could write my Walden in Whitby (or rather, Thoreau’s darker sequel, Cape Cod). Give me Greenfingers, the old fisherman’s cottage, or any of those Whitby beach huts (blue preferred) with a window on the shanty-mothering sea, a briny lookout for Tom Bowling.

Cure my heat, cold whipping Whitby winds, for the love of jolly Britannia and her trident (and her chippies). I long ago fled the Mojave Desert for northern latitudes, for the Northwest, for the chill, pine, raincloud, but lo and ho, the whole West is seasonally feverish, if not charred. Gone to cinders. Godawful for this chionophile-in-spirit. I need Whitby’s cold compress. A tonic bowl of seaspray and fog. 

Inverness, the Inner Hebrides, Edinburgh, Orkney, etc., I’ve searched these for my lake isle of Innisfree, with those “low sounds by the shore,” and all are beloved, but Whitby—Whitby!—I anchor in Whitby. I endeavor, with Captain Chill, to write of seashells by the seashore: books of seashell philosophy, books barnacled and cold to the touch, books on how I, knowing enough of heat, say that ice is great and will suffice. 


No, I don’t think you ought to read even three paragraphs on rejection. Not for you, this writerly phobia, salted wound, the keepers clinking the wrought iron closed. Why should I share what claret we’ve spilled? Don’t you see us sucking the floor for it? The fruit was pressed so sibilantly. Off, then. Off our backs, and back to your harbor in the dawn. 

No, nothing’s reciprocal between us, so nothing’s owed to you, so up your tropical tree, melon. Quite contrarily, we’re contraries—a sort of wintry mix of zero-summers (such puns belong to rejected authors). Welcome to the finitude. Your slice is mine, stolen. Those eyes you win, those readers, I wish them rheumy today; that is a just dessert for preferring your work. What a calamity all this. 

No, you may not partake. You are not worthy of partaking. To you, Argus Panoptes shuts every lid. No mausoleum; a mass grave. No swigs of commemorative champagne; a sneeze. Many little hatchlings and chicks were crushed today, or dehydrated, or chewed, or starved to death. Why, honestly why, ought you deserve better than those innocent bastards? 

Hill of Joy

The old vineyard’s deities have vanished. The support group has disbanded. Now, mouthless in the end, the writer wrestles in a chair. One touch of ink to net an ocean. Do you like the sound of that? We have no good offering; we feel the ocean surging; that’s all. Oh to blow a sour breath of praise. Oh the white eye yellows soon away. My hands—eight, nine, ten years fresh—in silliness pawed a smiling linen moon in the black champagne of space. Oh gripless rushing. Oh bad poetic moods. 

Exquisite friends and funeral guests, all bets are on again. We could’ve been anyone, yet we were us. So has your crockpot had a sincere cry lately? Exquisite friends, crumbs from mother’s cookie, from murk and mania and guessing, curious and mercurial, and gasping, we’ve arrived to gather the fluid of the labyrinth’s eye. Is there a sum due for unsolvable grief? Clap enamel, and muscle move, and whatever’s iced inside warm it. Time to write.

What comical cosmical thoughts I’ve thunk today! All this infinity a single point of slowing light. Webs of raw meat in a wrinkled hunch. What to write, to do, now? A few sentences shy of a suicide note, death’s long surprise, a distance growing more distant, every sun sinking, stained-glass eyes, a libation to a contradiction. I mostly thank you, world, for a bittersweet moment—my moment with you (sanctified, if anything is). Call me your hill of joy, eternal real, but not your mountain. 


I like my enemies, but I do not love them. I like them as enemies. If I loved them, quite literally loved them, I would lose the animal pleasures of enemyship, which, in my organic condition, are pleasures too vital to forgo. I am not opposed to the universal lover, or to that ideal, but I am in no rush to attain that status. 

Who are some of my enemies? Peter Wessel Zapffe and John Zerzan, to name two philosophers with surnames starting with “Z” (just for fun). The anti-natalist Zapffe and the anarcho-primitivist Zerzan represent two enemy camps. I can sublimate my loathing for Zapffe and Zerzan by subsuming the two of them, and their little philosophies, into a zenithist cosmodicy (that is, in an optimized world, even the Jeremiahs and diseased howlers play positive parts). I know that, insofar as I am able to subsume the effluent of my enemies, I am able to like them. 

Without that cosmodicy, without that sublimation, it is all irreconcilable loathing. Yet even in this bilious mood, this ferment of an indigestible chunk of enemy, there is a pleasurable heat, a kamikaze joy, a purpose-driven life. It feels good to hate, on occasion. Eros is sensual, but Eris is more so; I promise you. The twitch of the lip. The drumbeat pulse. Why do you think war is so popular? People need enemies as they need lovers. The functions are almost identical, though inverted. Oxytocin has two faces, like the god Janus, looking in opposite directions. 

Depression and Cosmodicy

Each emotion has its own moral perspective, and gerund that I am, emoting means winning, then failing, at cosmodicizing (i.e. “justifying the overall positive moral value of the cosmos). Depression, though not exactly an emotion, but a state of an emotional life, binds one to a moral perspective yoked to a craving for cosmodicy, while in the same sigh, negating the plausibility of any cosmodicy.

Anti-natalism, pessimism, and other such theories on the axiological dark side, become almost truistic from this perspective. As Tina Sonego said, quoted in The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon, “Depression is a search for invalidation” (p. 241). That search often looks as such: What is good? Not earth, for its horrors. Not life, for its horrors. Not anything, as each thing is tied to the metaphysical ground of all these horrors, or each thing is a necessary, actual, and witless booster in the “interdependent origination” of all these horrors. 

Paradoxically inspired by my depressive stretches, I’ve disdained consciousness through the humor, sour humor, of Beircean definitions; my favorite of mine: “Consciousness, n. That part of the human automaton evolved to hold in flatulence. Absent in sleep.” Escitalopram (20mg) has unburdened me of the worst of my low tides. Before that, I had little easing. I had unreliable mantras; their gist was “This depression, this negation of all, will someday pass.” That was my naked cogito ergo sum of hope, the one tooth-skin-thin indubitable hope. 

Watch Your Step

Will the second step be up or down? That is the question I’ve asked myself in preparation for this second post. That question can be answered only by stepping, but premeditation always plays its part, usually an oversized one. The second step establishes the first line, the first trajectory, a pattern, a habit. Now already I’m one-third through this second step, where premeditation becomes a conversation with itself for you

But I don’t have to stay on this second step; I can jump anywhere from here. I can be whimsical here, according to my rules. So, I’ll jump to my watch. It is a Bering Solar with a flexible black metal strap, dark face, gold case, gold crown, and gold hands. This watch is a gift from my Grandma and Grandpa (van Belle), celebrating the publication of my book Zenithism. The colors match the book: black and golden-bronze, even fawn. I was never a “watch person,” until this watch. My grandparents picked the perfect celebratory gift: time

To tie up this trefoil knot, I thought I ought to talk about my third step. My third step will be focused, unlike those foggy cobblestones making up that second step we took together. The throat needs at least two clearings in these plague years. A thick after-silence will compel me to make some point or other, especially since my step went neither up nor down, but forward only (through time). 

Inaugural Bloggural

I call this very first blog post, “Inaugural Bloggural,” without any sense of what I might want to do with such a title, except start out on a light note. This new blog, Hephaisteion, I’m describing as “Some wind-whipped airborne seeds from my dandelion life.” In other words, a blog about whatever strikes me. In fewer words, a blog about whatever

Certainly my fixations and habits will soon show, and may even require a repurposing of this blog (perhaps into a blog about building fortifications out of flowers); but until anything more definite arises, I welcome you to this light breeze of a blog—a monthly breeze: only three paragraphs per post (an easy-breezy three). Three paragraphs per one month, posted every fourth Friday, is my speed, blogwise.

So, thank you for taking a little bit of time with my little bit of blog. If you need something to do on the fourth Friday of the month, but nothing really seems worth doing, and you feel restless, wind-tossed even, might as well stop by Hephaisteion, that oddly named blog by that guy with the mini schnauzer named Nietzsche, and get a fresh update on another person, like you, lost in the breeze.