Aqaara: The Decision to Leave

Och engaged the signal and listened with the rest to the bitter message from Earth. “This is not open to negotiation. You are ordered to return.”

“We are leaving,” he replied simply.

“We condemn your actions. Your assets are to be seized, everything you own on Earth.”

“We give everything we have left behind freely. It is all for you. Use it for the good of all.”

“For the good of all? You have abandoned your families, your countries, your species.”              “We are on a journey to find our new home.”

“Your families will pay a dear price for your betrayal.”

“We would like you to accept our departure, commander. What else is there for you to do?”

“Set your course for return or you will be condemned.” The radio went down.

“They hung up on us?” Dee asked.

Och nodded. “It’s like a bad break-up.”

Ice Friday: Jane Hirshfield’s “Rock”

What appears to be stubbornness,/refusal, or interruption,/is to it a simple privacy. It broods/its thought like a quail her clutch of eggs.

Mosses and lichens/listen outside the locked door./Stars turn the length of one winter, then the next.

Rocks fill their own shadow without hesitation. and do not question silence,/however long./Nor are they discomforted by cold, by rain, by heat. The work of a rock is to ponder whatever it is:/an act that looks singly like a prayer,/ but is not a prayer.

As for this boulder,/its meditations are slow but complete.

Someday, its thinking worm out, it will be/carried away by an ant./A Mystrium cammilae,/perhaps, caught in some equally diligent,/equally single pursuit of a thought of her own,

Anne Imhof’s “Faust”: Weird and Not

Anne Imhof’s “Faust”, German’s 2017 entry at the Venice Bienalle, offers little on the surface, except the surface.
It’s more about the people watching than the performers – all the legs passing by.And the arms and hands. And then it is high above on a glass platform.

And that’s just weird.

Writing Camp: Final Day at Kenyon

I learned a lot at my Kenyon College writing camp. I learned about when to use different forms of dialogue. I learned about revelations, voice and x and y. I learned about repetition. I learned to listen. Chris Tilghman is a lovely man. He guides with self-deprecating wisdom. He shares his soul in an easy, remarkable fashion. He and my colleagues – especially Caitlin Fitzpatrick, our writing fellow – buoyed my spirits, reminded me to be less of an ass and more a writer. Just listen.

The final lesson: Endings need to be surprising and yet inevitable. The writer needs to resolve things and have something else to say in the end. 

Writing Camp: Day Seven at Kenyon College

A writing guidebook doesn’t exist, and if did, it would confuse.

A story can’t be someone reflecting about their self. That’s boring. Same with the Uber Voice. Boring. The first person is interesting because it looks out at the world. The third person examines others in detail as well as, of course, the self. Seeing someone else through another’s eyes just might be the highest level of interiority. Omniscient first person, that’s the thing. Half of us are firsters. Half of us are thirders. In the end, first and third person is mere grammar. Boom, boom.

Writing Camp: Day Four at Kenyon College

I did a reading last evening, which was this: There weren’t any hours. They didn’t exist. Dee thought about that too much, every day she had been on this ship, every day if days had existed. But they didn’t. Those things, those ticks, didn’t exist, not anymore. And she didn’t understand what the point was of pretending they did. There were no months, no years, no millennia, no seconds. There was none of that. They didn’t have a sun, no weather, no storm coming, no frost, nothing like that, nothing that was real, nothing. They were relative to nothing. Absolutely nothing. She hated thinking about that, thinking it again and again. In spite of all of their schedules and notifications, their habits, despite what everyone said, none of that existed. They just didn’t have time anymore. There was no planet, no star, no system. They were relative to nothing. It was that simple. They no longer rotated. They no longer revolved around anything, and nothing revolved around them. There was no longer a gravitational field, nothing to hold them, to give them weight. They had removed themselves, purposely dropped themselves into the abyss. They had left. They were relative to nothing. And nothing was relative to them. They were separate, moving, independent, away, further, closer, something else, deeper, whatever the word would be, whatever they would concoct in the days, the not-days, the not-months, the not-years to come, that word that defined their current state, their collective morass, their disappearing, connected to nothingness, broken free, going too fast – .91 light speed? Really that speed? Really that?