Space • 19 April 2009

So it’s glorious here. Forgotten fruit in season, a bike valet at the farmers' market, friends happy together, people saying “President Obama” on the radio. Spring quarter on campus, deadlines that ask for integrity and not acts of sleepless masochism, actually good art everwhere, Wolverine looking intense on billboards, the most perfect weekend playing on repeat, my hair turning weird strawberry blonde again as the 6-week brunette washes out, an appointment for contact lenses because I’m ready for cheap sunglasses and finally tired of the wire rims between me and people I’m teaching. Artists talking about how it’s time for high stakes creation and academics having the economic stakes raised in a sort of useful way. Let it be a little tougher for a while; let us get a little more serious… Serious can still be light.

::: It has been given to me to live this life; and it’s  allright for that living-out to be beautiful and fulfilled no matter the conditions.:::

No more apologies for being complete. Nor distrust of beauty, for that matter.

In this, these particularities, what makes Los Angeles itself? What makes me different when I am here? Three people have said that it feels like I am closer, reading here now compared to reading here a month ago. Isn’t that funny? The intimacy is increased, even as there’s nothing different about the url or where you sit as you read, and even though I never email personally anymore because my inbox has grown over in vines and stubbornly refuses to open anymore.

Space is a category of the understanding. No: that’s not Sri Aurobindo or some shit. It’s Kant. It’s good phenomenology too.

But in any case it’s interesting… to observe that space comes in to play in perception across a flat screen as much as it comes in to play in chopping kale, merging in to freeway traffic, scratching a dog behind the ears. And it’s not just in your head; it’s in mine too. I feel closer too. More cradled by taken-for-granted meanings, supported by relationships that have some age and meat to them, at home in the arts and the sciences I practice. Less en thrall to huge amounts of new information flying at high speeds into my grill.

In a sense, it is freeing to be able to take the perspective of the culture you inhabit. The more you move around, the more languages you speak, the more you understand intuitively that every history and culture is accidental. The more you can see from the integral meta-vista. But even so there is a richness to being able to participate, in a grounded way, as yourself, wherever you are, without compulsively translating everything in to some previous worldview or language. Hold steady, little scientist. There will be time for translation when the space changes.

I’ve been ruminating on PJ these days, feeling what space he occupies in the categories of my understanding. Early-early practice in the dark alone, a happy crooked-toothed version of him on the floor, propped against the wall. I light a candle that casts a shadow above and behind the photograph, a dark space in the shape of Teotihuacan or one of the other flat-topped Mexican pyramids. And PJ’s inside the pyramid-shadow, buried, preserved in middle age, seeing me through the dark. As he passes over, it’s easy to imagine he would pass in to this space even more strongly if that’s what I ask. I don’t think that I do ask that—other avatars resonate more strongly with me—but right now he also feels, well, closer than before.