Flying into the Flame

Yet another metaphor for this experience.

I flew, knowing that I risked burns. And burned I was. I will fly in again as flames seem to flicker all about, albeit in the middle distance, and as I notice my eyes straining towards them.

A friend of mine once spoke of experiencing near immolation in love. Is this just a phenomenon of adolescence, uncompleted despite stage of life? Can immolation be experienced without annihiation? Or is this the existential dilemma?

Inspired by Bruce Sterling’s fantastic “The State of the World” presentation (mp3) from South by Southwest, I have been reading and listening to some peoms by Carl Sandburg. Sterling concludes his speech with a spine-chilling excerpt from “The People, Yes“.

Others of Sandburg’s poems speak more directly to the “love layers” uncovered in my recent probe.

Firstly, layer 2, the missing loved one, in:

At A Window

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

And layer 4, the ultimately unfulfillable, in:

Dream Girl (also available as an mp3)
You will come one day in a waver of love,
Tender as dew, impetuous as rain,
The tan of the sun will be on your skin,
The purr of the breeze in your murmuring speech,
You will pose with a hill-flower grace.

You will come, with your slim, expressive arms,
A poise of the head no sculptor has caught
And nuances spoken with shoulder and neck,
Your face in a pass-and-repass of moods
As many as skies in delicate change
Of cloud and blue and flimmering sun.

You may not come, O girl of a dream,
We may but pass as the world goes by
And take from a look of eyes into eyes,
A film of hope and a memoried day.

From Sandburg’s “The People, Yes“:

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people
“Where to? what next?”

Incident on the Road of Love

I am bumping along the dirt road of love, dragged like the cans towed from a bridal car. I am launched into a shallow arc through the air. Intoxicated by the speed of the car, I forget how it started and enjoy the flight.

Landing grazes me in several places as I skid to a halt.

I bathe my torn skin gently with cotton wool and saline, but in each place the skin lifts with the cotton wool revealing gaping wounds, seeping with thick pus.

Lying, as the day dims, I notice my friends, denizens of the hedgerows, begin to emerge. They lie gently beside me, hold a hand, lay light coverings or let me be reflected in their eyes.

Pain Spectroscopy

I wish I’d made this up but the idea came from email as spectroscopy, quite cool in itself. Ed tells me that spectroscopy is the analysis of light frequency to determine molecular structure. You go layer by layer, identifying the number of electrons in each. As a metaphor for this, it stands up.

I know from experience that the only way out is in. Now, again almost overwhelmed with pain, I return to this. Yes, it’s analysis but to do it probes the recesses. It’s a journey of sense-making and feeling, somehow groping forward. Basically, it’s pissing me off feeling this much pain and being so disabled from my daily life by it. I just want to give it the flick.

I indulged, today in pathetic recourse to “are you sure?”. She is. As if I hadn’t known that, I had been “waiting by the phone”, badly. Like a ventriloquist’s dummy, I was tipped into a new trough of lamentation. Jeezers, I am thinking, there’s gotta be something more to this than I realise. I mean, she’s a nice chick but we were holding hands, snuggling up a little.

OK, it’s the prism. But first, notice the alternating pattern between the layers.

1: Conscious, real person: No Playmate

I can’t call her Chicky Babe any more. How’s “L”? We’re not talking magazine here but biking or sitting around, dinner, brunch (she doesn’t do breakfast, apparently), picnic, lingeringly shopping for nice clothes, aromatic delicacies or absolute crap, skipping or scuttling about playing body games, fossicking, doing movies, domestically hanging curtains or fridge doors, music, art, architecture and garden-fancying. All that ordinary nice stuff. Some of it not so ordinary for me. Ok what? L being haughty, dismissive and presumptuous with me. Issuing orders in monosyllables. Chatting online to other blokes for the first five minutes after I arrive. Whoah, we are very close to my ‘ok’ boundary here.. but are we? Somehow, I know that it’s just play and when real stuff goes down, she’ll be there, pretty solid. And when it does, she is. Noticing how easy L is with herself and with people. Meeting Simon and being out about letting go being “on show”. Different way of doing it from me. With substance.

Feeling an electric sensation touching her skin.

Layer 1: no real person whom I like and have much easy fun with.

2: Unconscious, imagined person: No Partner

My unconscious, of course notices about three basic things: woman, friendly, around a lot and goes “latch”. A “live-in lover”. Someone to check in with at the end of each day, stretch out with, get up with, share intimate spaces of the house, comment on decor, share utensils with. No run-up.

Why would there be? A person whom i like and who is giving me attention. Who doesn’t like that? Actually, I know this “pattern” quite well, having had a decent selection of good fits, in my time.

Gotta query rejection here. Call me naive (or narcissistic) but I don’t think this is too bad a case of it. I’d know.

Layer 2: no match with the imagined missing person silhouette.

3: Conscious, real person: No Jane

It’s simple, really. L matches missing person mould but missing person mould is plastic, it’s been deformed, shaped by Jane. My whole life has. I can’t put a twisty tie around a cellophane breadcrumbs bag without her being right here with me.

C’mon, it’s been nine months, can I start having my life back? C’mon, it’s only been nine months, man, what do you expect? Amazing, Dan, only nine months and you’re giving it a go again! Do you know how sick i am of this little chat? I am and I’m not. I know you are here with me, Jane Spears. But what do I do with you, here like this but not? Damn, it’s like you get all the benefit from it, and all the power, and you don’t even exist.

L said she didn’t want to be the first one after Jane. Good call, Honey.

Layer 3: just who do you think i am?

4: Unconscious, imagined person, absent

This excerpt from (I think it’s a draft of the) script of the legendary movie Tombstone has it that, in a bedroom of the Hooker Ranch, Wyatt Earp says to Doc Holliday:

What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?


A man like Ringo’s got a great Empty hole right through the Middle of him and no matter what He does he can’t ever fill it. He Can’t kill enough or steal enough Or inflict enough pain to ever Fill it. And it drives him mad. Sick mad. Cold and dirty.


So what does he want?


What does he want? He wants revenge.


Revenge? For what?

[Doc looks at him, a look of purest sadness in his sunken eyes.]


Being born.

Abandonment, loss, lack. Stone-hugging. It’s not just childhood wounds, it’s the the war, and the war before that. Can’t escape this shit.

Layer 4: live with it.

Snippet of Futurism

A few snippets of enjoyment and a foray into futurism, amidst my misery.

I have joined a team that is entering the 48 Hours film competition this year. Hanna and a bunch of the folks working on her movie are in it. At least one of the team was in the group that won the South Island section last year with Bruised Gold. It’s just one of the many excellent short films on Cactuslab‘s

Not a film but a (Flash) movie, this ragdoll model of Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung is virtual about as visceral as I’ve found – and a heap of fun.

But the thing I’ve rewatched the most in the last couple of days is this nicely made short movie of They’re Made out of Meat, a short story by Terry Bisson.

I’ve been experiencing a rejuvenation of my interest in the social forces that drove the development of the abnormal brain size that humans have among primates. It seems to me that the social patterns of our lifestyle in the Web world have more in common with those of hunting or raiding in bands than with furrow-poughing, and pyramid or ship-building. It’s just that the scale of the connections is expanding so rapidly that we can barely cope. It makes sense, therefore that we are building machines (Google, etc) that can aggregate the responses of hundreds of millions of people and make them discoverable.

The only catch is that even what is discoverable will soon (five decades?) overwhelm us. The accelerating edge of the rate of change will impinge more and more closely until these precocious jungle animal brains can no longer cope, even with abstractions. Just as well life, or at least something we’ll probably recognise as like it, as it whizzes by, is emerging in the mediated environment to surpass us in sentience and, probably observe us with incredulity and, we hope nostalgia, rather than detachment.

Chicky Babe, Rebecca from Circle Research and Jane

There are a million things I’d like to write here. This is first. I got a little close to a new someone. Chicky Babe, her name is. It isn’t of course, but pratt/wannabe that I am, I called her that and it stuck. It could be that it’s useful to have a pseudonyms for my girlfriends because otherwise how could I blog about my relationships with them without violating their privacy. You know, Jane’s dead… and our relationship was pretty public anyway, by the time that she died. I’ve been pretty conscious of her privacy notwithstanding all that. But any new one, even Jane at that early stage of our relationship referred to in my last post, would not exactly be WWW material.

Course you (and maybe Chicky Babe) would have noticed my use of “girlfriends”. Maybe you think I’m doing them concurrently, or even wilfully serially. Well, I tried in parallel, in the most modest way and I don’t like it. Me: one at a time, earlier rather than later. But who really knows what (or how many) will happen? For all my investigations into the intricacies of relationships it certainly ain’t me. I wouldn’t have a bloody clue, three quarters of the time.

OK, as I said CB (I like her) and I got a little close. Don’t get carried away here. A little, right? Try telling my unconscious that, tho. First sign of a little niceness, it went straight into fundemental dilemma mode. Back in the womb, simultaneously united with god and cornered by a predator. Least that’s what it felt like. Sure, I was a little connected. Comes a point in hanging out and having a nice time together, it just isn’t a matter for decision-making any more. It just is.

And so it was. Fear, sadness, old friends, bastards, bowled right in. For a day I dragged my arse, leaning into it like a bitch to get anywhere. Trying to shake it off. Why do I have to be such a mess? I knew what the fear was about but where was all that sadness from? Felt like a fat bladder full of tears. But a tied up tight one, just bulging around inside me.

At about four o’clock, I was expecting a call from CB. The phone rang “is that Mr Spears?”. “No”. “Is that the household of Jane Spears and Mr Spears?”. “Who’s speaking please?”. “It’s Rebecca from Circle Research” (maybe I got the company name wrong – it doesn’t matter). “Rebecca, Jane died…” we ended our conversation. As my finger closed on the “off” button on the phone, I arched back and then convulsed into an explosive expulsion of tears. It was like, not being swept along by but being the cause of, or being an actual dam-burst and flash flood. I don’t think I have ever shed so many tears in such a short time. It was Jane, of course.

Thank you, Rebecca, I thought, when the storm had blown itself out. I felt almost weightless compared with how I had before. I was even able to be sociable when I met up with CBabe for a burst round the park on our bikes and then a movie (Match Point – i hated it), some dinner and a bit of sunday nite tourist shopping.

I started writing this a few days ago. At the time, my favourite song in the universe was “King Straggler’s” Good Man (you can download it from the SXSW site). King Straggler features John Hawkes of Deadwood (I so have to review that) and Me and You fame.

CB (I really want to use her real name now) and I had dinner and sat around listening to music on Tuesday night. Some email during the days. We met up on Wednesday night and it was lovely again. We wrote lists of things we’d like each other to do for us. We played. We talked. We were gentle and kind with each other. We met once more, for the last time, on Friday night. It’s not a particularly long story but it’s our story, for here purposes. It makes sense to me but damn it hurts. I knew I was vulnerable to being hurt but then slam. It’s not as if this was a great love. We both knew its limitations. But it was so nice, such lovely easy gentle fun. I got what I wanted. To feel some connection with someone. To have some fun. Why did it only have to be a few weeks, tho? And why did I have to feel all that pain last weekend and why do I have to feel all this pain now and when will it stop? I don’t want to ache and cry all the time. I just want to have a normal life with normal nice things and some one to share them with.

Damn, I miss you, Chicky Babe. I can’t tell you 100% that these tears are about you and not about Jane or about me and just wanting to have a nice time. I can tell you that I loved playing with you and that I know about your strength, gentleness and integrity. And I know that you have seen some glimpses of me and also of what might be possible between us. This is probably the right thing to be doing. I wouldn’t know. What I do know is that I am glad that with you, I went with what felt right. Gut guide, take me forward to more fun, more delight and more (frgn) pain.