Saturday, October 15, 2011

Would rather feel the very devil burn

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There is much to be said for contentment and painlessness, for these bearable and submissive days, on which neither pain nor pleasure is audible, but pass by whispering and on tip-toe. But the worst of it is that it is just this contentment that I cannot endure. After a short time it fills me with irrepressible hatred and nausea. In desperation I have to escape and throw myself on the road to pleasure, or, if that cannot be, on the road to pain. When I have neither pleasure nor pain and have been breathing for a while the lukewarm insipid air of these so-called good and tolerable days, I feel so bad in my childish soul that I smash my moldering lyre of thanksgiving in the face of the slumbering god of contentment and would rather feel the very devil burn in me than this warmth of a well-heated room... For what I always hated and detested and cursed above all things was this contentment, this healthiness and comfort, this carefully preserved optimism of the middle classes, this fat and prosperous brood of mediocrity.   

Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf 

Friday, October 14, 2011


There is a Cross up there on the cliff that hangs over the chapel. The wall of rock like a frozen wave. The building always seemed shiplike to me. The Pequod by George Nakashima. I once asked the Monks about climbing up there. They told me that it was forbidden, that years ago a Stranger had died when he fell from the cliff. His bones are in the Graveyard behind the Garden.

One evening after Vespers, I walked back to the Hallowed Ground to see if I could find the grave. There were a dozen or so simple crosses marked with the names of Brothers and Fathers, but I could not find the name of any Guest or Stranger.

When you are sitting in the chapel, the sun rises into the cliff and the wall of rock becomes a wall of fire and light, filtering in through the high windows, columns made solid with the swirling smoke from the copal and pinon incense. Depending upon where you sit, you can see the Cross up there, poised upon a timeless moment, at a peak instant of the world becoming into being.

When I have been lost, I try to remember the image of that Empty Cross upon the cliff about the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. And I think about the climb up. And that man who fell.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Honey burns my tongue

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The drugs are sleep and solitude. When I can get them, I abuse them. Epic dreams that spin out of single words: Once, Rage, Bones and even Dreaming. In solitude, singing to a roomful of skulls. Watching the smiles. As if it were the last time, the last songs, the last sounds. Playing myself into laughter and tears. Pushing my bones across the strings. Listening to the silence in between everything. The fires that burned the flesh in the Desert - night after night - occupy my mind. I had not even noticed that I have been collecting wood again. And that honey burns my tongue.