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  • - * 13 DOORS OF X* *Meeah Williams* The Barking Cat Press * 2015 Brooklyn, NY * Seattle, WA copyright 2015 Meeah Williams/The Barking Cat...

Monday, June 29, 2015

=Tape transmission (2:45): To Be or Not to Be=

If you commit suicide because you're life is no longer worth living they’ll blame you. They'll blame you for leaving them with the psychic damage of your death and they’ll blame you for being selfish and accuse you of being a coward. But if you go off and live your life the way you need to in order to survive, they’ll still call you selfish and they’ll still blame you for shirking your responsibilities and instead just going off without any concern for them. Basically what people want you to do is to stay in place and fulfill their needs and be what they expect you to be in their lives and go on in that way no matter how miserable you are. That’s what they want. They don’t want you to take your life and they don’t want you to change your life. They want you to devote your life to their expectations of how you should live so that you fit in with what they want from you and they insist that alone should make you happy. And if you don’t do that, if it's not enough for you, then you’re a bad person, you’re a selfish person, a mean-spirited person, an irresponsible person. It’s bullshit, of course. It’s bullshit. Everybody has got to survive or not in the way that they see fit in order to make their lives worth living for themselves. And if they can make their lives of use to someone else that’s great but that’s just gravy. You can’t live your life for someone else because they’ll blame you for that, too. It’ll be like “Well you shouldn’t have lived your life for me. Who asked you to, anyway? You should have lived your own life.” And you’re like, “Well I would have liked to, but you would have blamed me for living my own life.” Really it’s just best to ignore people altogether and do whatever it is you want to do. In the end that’s what it comes down to. You just have to do what you have to do to get through every day in the best way you can to make the death waiting for you…well, not worthwhile or even bearable…but at least not the last of a lifetime of bitter pills you were forced to swallow...

=An Alphabet of My Creative Icons=

He started off life as Kimitake Hiroka. He died Yukio Mishima.

He was born on January 14, 1925. He committed ritual suicide by seppuku on November 25, 1970.

He lived forty-five years.

He was bullied a lot as a child for his artistic and literary leanings. The Japanese of that time were a notoriously macho culture. He was bullied by his father for the same reason. Dad believed in old school discipline. Like holding his young son out the window of a speeding train in order to…what? Toughen him up? Turn him into a psychopath or a gibbering schizophrenic? It’s hard to gauge such intentions. He used to search young Yukio’s room for traces of girliness and when he found any evidence the boy had been writing he tore it to shreds.

Mishima caught a break when a Japanese Army doctor misdiagnosed a cold he had during a routine check-up as tuberculosis. Otherwise, he might have died as another one of the extras on Iwo Jima.

His first novel, published when he was only twenty-four, was Confessions of a Mask. It was about a young homosexual man who had to keep his inclinations hidden to fit into society. It made Mishima a big success in 1949. Critics consider it semi-autobiographical. Due to the novel's acclaim, Mishima was able to quit his miserable, if financially promising, job in the Finance Ministry and devote himself to writing.

He was an avid bodybuilder. A beautiful mind in a beautiful body, that was Mishima’s motto. He didn't believe in letting himself go to hell-in-a-handbasket physically like, say William Faulkner or Truman Capote. He was a devotee of kendo, traditional Japanese swordsmanship. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize for Literature. But came up a bridesmaid on all three occasions. What were perceived as his right-wing politics didn’t help his chances any, that’s for sure. He was a model and a movie-actor.

He was once set to marry the woman who would eventually marry the man who would eventually become the Emperor of Japan. Michiko Shoda is Empress of Japan. She’s still empressing today at 81. Her husband is still emperoring. 

Instead Mishima married another woman and had two children, a daughter and a son. None of them liked the rumors that emerged after Mishima’s splashy death by seppuki that he was not-so-secretly gay.

There’s a notoriously homoerotic photo of Mishima in loincloth and pierced by arrows suffering beautifully ala Saint Sebastian.

Mishima formed and trained a secret paramilitary-spiritual society of young men who practiced the martial arts and swore allegiance to the Emperor. Except it wasn’t so much the Emperor they honored, but the divinity that traditionally resided within him. Mishima was committed to the bushido code and considered himself a modern-day samurai. It was Hirohito’s renouncing of his traditional divine role that Mishima found so troubling and the true defeat of Japan after World War 2. It meant that Japanese culture had lost its soul—a loss more devastating than the loss of any one war—and that the warriors who died in the war had ultimately died in vain.

It was Mishima’s intention to protest this vulgarizing trend in Japanese culture that led to his storming a civil defense headquarters on November 25, 1970. Ostensibly Mishima was attempting to incite a coup. It was a spectacular failure. He looked like a fool to everyone but his small circle of like-minded followers. It’s suspected that Mishima knew full-well just how quixotic and vainglorious his plan was and only used it to make his suicide all the more symbolic. He’d been planning his final act for a whole year and had already put his affairs in order.

Traditionally seppuku involved disemboweling oneself with a short blade, plunging it into the abdomen and drawing it upwards. The coup de grace comes by way of decapitation. Apparently the man Mishima chose to behead him as part of the ritual wasn’t as up to the job as one might have hoped. After several failed attempts to hack Mishima’s head off Mishima’s shoulders, a second man had to take over.

This is not the way you picture a great author going out and it’s had a dampening effect on Mishima’s legacy. But it's probably better than having your liver explode from alcoholism the way Kerouac went out. Indeed, despite his many missteps and perceived embarrassments, a prize has been established in Japan to honor literary excellence in Mishima's honor. It’s called, no big surprise, The Mishima Prize.

His work drips with eroticism, kinkiness, and death- obsession which is precisely why I like it—and him—so much.

For this reason too: He was a guy who lived life at a higher frequency than most people ever dared…or even dreamed. He lived life as if his life were a work of art that he was consciously creating.

If you turn your life into a line of poetry, Mishima wrote, written with a splash of blood, then perfect purity is possible.

His was a truly beautiful life.

=How to Be a Completely New Person Every Single Day=

Sunday, June 28, 2015


=Inquiry into a Mirror=

They are better than me. I mean, other people. I mean, other people are better than me
at being people. They talk just the way people
are supposed to talk.  
One word after another about the weather,
television, what happened
at work, children, someone breaking up with someone, who's not doing well after the initial
round of treatments.   
When they approach you,
they stretch their lips until they disappear and show their teeth and it looks completely natural. Not like a
monkey in a cage. Not like a disintegrating corpse. 
I mean, everyone agrees they are doing it right
They say “hello.” 
Then they say did you hear, 
isn't it a shame, can you believe it.
It’s the way it’s supposed to be.
I mean, other people are the way people 
are supposed to be. 
It's a mystery to me, that’s what they are.
It's like a secret cabal I'm not part of. 
How did they learn this complicated thing? 
I mean, this being-people thing? 
They are so much better than me at being people. 
How did it happen? How did they get so far ahead of me? Where did they learn? When? 
They laugh just like they do
on television when someone does something
that isn’t too funny. When something sad happens, 
they open their eyes wide and furrow 
their brows
and show a very deep concern and everyone
knows they're truly sad about someone's
ovarian cyst or flooded basement. 
I find it difficult. 
I mean, I find it difficult to say anything. 
I stand there, as if stumped. 
When I say “I’m sorry” it sounds like 
someone asking “Would you like some salt?” 
Other people
are better at walking down the street. 
They do it effortlessly. 
They look around themselves 
as if they were seeing things 
that really interested them.
I have to think “left-right-left-right.” 
I mean, otherwise I'll fall flat on my face 
like my shoelaces were tied. 
When other people see other people
they recognize, for instance, they do a complex facial yoga
that is beyond me. 
I mean,  if I meet people unexpectedly
I look up like someone's interrupted me 
in the toilet.   
Just in case, I have to write crib notes
 on the inside of my wrists 
exactly where you might cut them. 
I write notes to remember: “Smile. Nod. Hello. 
Take care. How are you?”
Okay, I’m exaggerating. 
No I’m not. 
Yes I am. 
Still other people are better than me
at being people.
It comes naturally to them, 
as if they’ve been doing it their whole lives,
as if that’s what they really are.
I watch their faces closely for signs of tension. 
For cracks. 
When I’m around people I feel like I’m going to blow apart in a thousand pieces. 
Like something awful is going to 
emerge from the fragile egg that I am. 
It takes all my effort to keep it inside,
like I'm standing on the brake of a car skidding on ice. 
But other people. I mean, other people seem so sincere. 
So natural, 
so at ease. Like seals in the water.
How do they do it? When someone shows them a baby picture they go “Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh!” 
right on cue no matter how many times it's been
done before. 
I stand there
like someone has presented me a complex problem
involving differential equations.
I jerk around like a marionette.  
Everyone is better than me at being people. I saw a show once about a serial killer. 
He had a thousand friends. Even in jail, other people still couldn’t help liking him. They said, “He was a really nice guy, except for the serial killing thing.”
What I mean is other people can be people 
without any effort at all. It’s like they were born being people. 
What would it be like, I wonder, to be one of these other people? How does one do it? Is it too late, surely it’s already too late, but just imagine it's not. I mean, not too late to become other people.
Let’s say I could.
If I could become other people would I scare myself the way other people scare me now?
 Would I even recognize myself and if so would I walk right by me without a word pretending I didn't recognize me because I'm just too damn weird
even for other people? 
Would I glance quickly at my wrist
 and read in the same dull lifeless voice
 I have now “Hello? How are you?” 
Would I smile and nod? Would I say “Take care”? Would I  mean it? Would I at least sound like I mean it? I mean, would I feel any sympathy for me at all?
If so,
which me would I be when I did?
I mean, of course it's too late,
but what if?
I don't answer. I just stare back.
I mean, it's embarrassing enough
even to have to ask.
I mean, I have nothing written on my wrist 
to cheat from.
I mean, not so much as a scar.

Friday, June 26, 2015

=Did I Did I Not?=

I don’t remember. Did I do that?
Did I just do that? What did I do?
I don’t know what I do. What do I do? Do I do anything? Did I do that?
What is it that I do when I do what I do? I don’t know. I don’t remember what I do. Did I do what I remembered? Do I remember what I do?
What do I do?
I don’t think I do anything. Did I just do that? I don’t know what I do. 
Do I do anything? What is it that I do when I do what I do? 
When do I do what I do when I remember what I do?
I don’t think I do anything.
Sometimes I think I’m going to do something.
I try to do something.
I thought I did something but it turns out I did nothing. Nothing. I do nothing. Am I nothing when I do nothing? Is anything I do worth anything I do?
Is anything I do nothing?
Do I do nothing?
Am I nothing? Do I do nothing
when I think I do something?
Am I anything when I do nothing?
Have I done anything?
Is anything I do worth anything I do?
Do I do nothing?
Did I do nothing?
I wish I did nothing.
I wish I said nothing.
I wish I’d done nothing up to now, nothing to say
nothing to do, nothing
to remember or not to remember,
nothing to regret doing or not doing.
If you didn't do want you wanted to do
did you do anything?
If you can't remember what you did
or didn't
did you do anything or nothing?
Is anything nothing?
Is nothing anything?
Is it too late to do nothing?
Is nothing too late?
What did I do?
Nothing in the end?
Is the end nothing?
Is nothing
Do I hope for anything when I hope for nothing?
Is nothing something
to be hoped for?
Having said this much have I said nothing
having said nothing have I said anything
or nothing?
Is it possible to say nothing at all?
Did I do this?
If so, what have I done
if not?

=Book recently read: The Sonnets by Ted Berrigan=

Post-modernist experimentation applied to the sonnet: cut-up, collage, chance operations—whatever works. These sonnets are hermetic, full of personal references you’d need to know Ted Berrigan to identify. Why should you bother?  I wouldn’t. Except the work serves as an example and inspiration to create your own hermetic work. Best way to read these sonnets: let the language, rhythms, and images wash over you. The repetition and variations on line and theme build power and momentum as you read. Meaning, except for the Berrigan scholar (or old friend), remains elusive and largely what you make it. So? It’s more fun that way.