At the time of the last posting, things were moving so fast it seemed I was writing in real time. The world continues to careen madly – it is truly off its axis – but time has now become undefinable in its slowness, it seems we are out of time – suspended outside of time, time is running out! The sensation today is not one of a breathless race to keep up with events unfolding at unimaginable speed, no. Rather, there is a suffocating pause as we collectively wait. We wait for the unbelievable political situation to somehow resolve itself and for Trump and his brute armies to dissolve. We wait for the promise of vaccines to materialize out of the herculean efforts of the scientists and save us from the virus. We wait for the country and the world to right itself.
It is hard to work outside of time, it is strange to work in a frozen moment, it is a challenge to work while waiting. But I have been doing just that – frozen outside of time, waiting silently, breathlessly, work continues albeit more slowly.
This post offers one more large work – Dominant Yellow Spheres, the verso painting of Dominant Spheres, both of which can be seen here. There are many more movable spherical pieces, mostly done but still waiting to be assembled and photographed. Afterwards, maybe the spheres, spots and holes will be finished.
Finally, this post ends with a work by one of the magnificent poets I continually turn to. This poem by Octavio Paz is quite long, so it will be the only one posted now.
Is There No Way Out?
Dozing I hear an incessant river running between dimly discerned,
looming forms, drowsy and frowning.
It is the black and white cataract, the voices, the laughter, the groans,
of a confused world hurling itself from a height.
And my thoughts that gallop and gallop and get no further also fall
and turn back and plunge into the stagnant waters of language.
A second ago it would have been easy to grasp a word and repeat it
once and then again,
any one of those phrases one utters alone in a room without mirrors
to prove to oneself that it’s not certain,
that we are still alive after all,
but now with weightless hands night is lulling the furious tide,
and one by one images recede, one by one words cover their faces.
The time is past already for hoping for time’s arrival, the time of
yesterday, today, and tomorrow,
yesterday is today, tomorrow is today, today all is today, suddenly it
came forth from itself and is watching me,
it doesn’t come from the past, it is not going anywhere, today is here,
it is not death—no one dies of death, everyone dies of life—,
it is not life—instantaneous fruit, vertiginous and lucid rapture, the
empty taste of death gives more life to life—,
today is not death nor life,
has no body, nor name, nor face, today is here,
cast at my feet, looking at me.
I am standing, quiet at the center of the circle I made in falling away
from my thoughts,
I am standing and I have nowhere to turn my eyes to, not one splintered
fragment of the past is left,
all childhood has brought itself to this instant and the whole future is
these pieces of furniture nailed to their places,
the wardrobe with its wooden face, the chairs lined up waiting for
the chubby armchair with its arms spread, obscene as if dead in its
the electric fan—conceited insect—the lying window, the actual
without chinks or cracks,
all has shut itself up in itself, I have come back to where I began,
everything is today and forever.
Way off there, on the other side, shores extend, immense as a look of love,
there the night clothed in water displays its hieroglyphs within hand’s reach,
the river enters singing along the sleeping plain and moistens the roots of the
there enlaced bodies lose themselves in a forest of transparent trees,
under the leaves of the sun we walk, we are two reflections that cross swords
with each other,
silver stretches bridges for us to cross the night, stones make way for us,
there you are the tattooing on the jade breast fallen from the moon, there the
insomniac diamond yields
and in its empty center we are the eye that never blinks and the transfixion
of the instant held within itself in its splendor.
All is far off, there is no way back, the dead are not dead, the living are
there is a wall, an eye that is a well, all that is pulls downwards,
the body is heavy, thoughts are heavy, all the years are this minute
that is dropping interminably down,
from that hotel room in San Francisco I stepped right into Bangkok,
today is yesterday, tomorrow is yesterday,
reality is a staircase going neither up nor down, we don’t move, today
is today, always is today,
always the sound of trains that depart each night towards night,
the resort to toothless words,
the boring through of the wall, the comings and goings, reality shutting
putting in commas, the punctuation of time, all is far off; the walls are
the glass of water is thousands of miles away, it will take me a thousand
years to cross my room again,
what a remote sound the word life has, I am not here, there is no here,
this room is somewhere else,
here is nowhere, little by little I have been shutting myself and I find
no exit that doesn’t give onto this instant,
this instant is I, I went out of myself all at once, I have no name and
I am here, cast at my feet, looking at myself looking to see myself
Outside, in the gardens that summer has ravaged, a cicada rages
against the night.
Am I or was I here?
English translation by Denise Levertov.
“The Poems of Octavio Paz”
Edited and translated by Eliot Weinberger
With additional translations by Elizabeth Bishop, Paul Blackburn, Denise Levertov, Muriel Rukeyser, and Charles Tomlinson
A New Directions Book. NY. 2018