YOUNG WOMAN AT A WINDOW by William Carlos Williams

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YOUNG WOMAN AT A WINDOW

While she sits
there
 
with tears on
her cheek
 
her cheek on
her hand
 
this little child
who robs her
 
knows nothing of
his theft
 
but rubs his
nose

 

YOUNG WOMAN AT A WINDOW

She sits with
tears on
 
her cheek
her cheek on
 
her hand
the child
 
in her lap
his nose
 
pressed
to the glass

 

from Poems 1934
I prefer the second one, but I can’t fully appreciate the second one without the bed of the first one; which is why WCW had them this way, I guess; this is observed compassion, not getting-in-the-way compassion, not judging compassion; it is the compassion of a passing stream

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

child & sitting & windows & woman wormhole: silence
glass wormhole: Four Noble Truths
hands wormhole: psssssh
passing & William Carlos Williams wormhole: IN THE ‘SCONSET BUS by William Carlos Williams
tears wormhole: What You Are by Roger McGough

 

meanwhile

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                the seagulls, they glide about the
                cranes and warehouse rooftops

                they wheel above the pacing and fro,
                cut between pulleys and raised pennants

                oblivious to distant headland through
                studied binocular pointing out to sea, back in the day

                when the skies were afternoon-blue
                and the sea still sitting-room-green

                then, when there was dare to hope
                and ships anchored on the horizon

                under curtain-drapes of nightest sky
                while the moon snagged in line from

                fore-mast to prow; nevertheless, they
                trekked over crag and gorge, they walked

                through water and pushed through
                trapezoids – slab! – into rooms of stone

                locked and immovable despite
                horizon, fit or ninety degree angle

                oblivious to mankind’s rite and dress;
                meanwhile the twins climbed the tower

 

c’mon, now: a gold-plated no-prize to the first reader who can tell me which book this piece came from to celebrate my return to writing; perception – knowing what’s going on – is never as linear as it might seem to be in a story; already given that there is breadth and depth, even in the scant of depiction, there is usually a time (and a space, and we know how relative those two can be) during which something happens, but let’s not think that these are the only dimensions – there is always a right-angle to be taken that paisley-swirls to a far-wider cauldron than could have initially never been conceived but of which there were pre-echoes if listening askance intently-enough

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

afternoon & horizon & sky wormhole: travelling,
blue wormhole: silence
cranes wormhole: poessay XI – piquant love
Eiffel Tower wormhole: tag cloud poem VI – anyone’s eyes
green wormhole: Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] – tenderness
moon wormhole: ‘not sure …’
night & water wormhole: riders of the night
rooftops wormhole: travel // when I die
sea wormhole: then
seagulls wormhole: The Atlantic City Convention: 1. THE WAITRESS by William Carlos Williams
sitting room wormhole: the sitting room
sound wormhole: Four Noble Truths
stone wormhole: looking hard enough
time wormhole: travel // when I die
travelling wormhole: IN THE ‘SCONSET BUS by William Carlos Williams
walking wormhole: breakfast

 

a far grander / Sangha

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                went to Swarthmore Hall
                brandishing my fragile self
                to open up to all beings

                went back to the Priory
                with rising grandeurs
                of delusion; shall I

                relinquish this flaw
                of expecting I am so much
                more than I appear if only

                I were understood …;
                then perhaps I could be
                more than I could ever

                understand and recognise
                these beings as already
                my own and take

                my one and lonely
                place with a far grander
                Sangha than I could ever have allowed

 

‘Swarthmore Hall’ is where the Quakers began, Carol did a course there; it is in Ulverston in South Cumbria where we lived soon after we married and started our family, we were aware of the place at the time, but not as students; ‘the Priory’ just outside Ulverston is the Manjushri Institute, a Buddhist college that we lived in; this was the first time I’d been back to visit in 32 years; and … this is the last poem I wrote – 4th September 2019 – I haven’t written one since, not seized to, not tipped towards; I have been letting a lot of things go during these beginning years of my retirement, even my Batman comics … maybe more a spiral than a circle

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

identity wormhole: ‘not sure …’
thinking wormhole: silence

 

Bodhisattvacharyavatara: Chapter VII, Joyous Effort – verse 8; reflectionary

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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 8

Transglomeration: “B-but, this hasn’t been done … this is only just started … this is only half-finished; and death … all of a sudden at my door; n-ngha, this is it, I’m finished!”

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 7 death will pounce suddenly …
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 8 … right in the middle of my trying to do all the things of my life – never at the right time

Summary: embroiled in too much doing (just the ordinary doing of life), too many projects, plans and desires, death will suddenly happen; complete despair, only then, at the point of dying, will we realise the value of the PHR; too late

Reflection: the exclamation ‘alas, I am lost/undone!’ has, buried within it, that all those projects mentioned in the first part of the verse were not just a list of any old jobs on a list on the side in my kitchen, these were projects with which I was building my world and building my place within it, as I have been doing all of my volitional life, the things through which I defined myself, the things I wanted to see established in the world to make sense of it all; this is why I am lost, not because I didn’t get to tick them off, but because I never got the chance to yet further prove what I think I am, I am undone … literally; and this whole verse is a gaggling-stammer-filled expostulation: arrival of death (tadaa!) “ngaah! b-but, haven’t f-finished-started-hlf-dn, wait, needto, `portant, I…”; also, a nice twistofthedagger in the verse: the first part panicking about all the things not done (not put together/compounded/conditioned) and the end realising that “I” … (to whatever extent I had hubris-dly manufactured both it and my world) am un-done, unravelled

Determination: quick, before it’s too late, get going

Bodhisattvacharyavatara: Chapter VII, Joyous Effort – verse 7; reflectionary

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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 7

Transglomeration: There is time before death will have gathered all its conditions and suddenly arrive for me; it will be too late to do anything then, like giving up my lack of effort.   Between now and then I should be gathering my own stores (of merit and wisdom).

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 6 while death watches me, has my whole life covered …
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 7 … and will pounce suddenly, too late to practise then, do it now!

Reflection: we need to act (virtuously – accumulating wisdom and virtue)

(Realisation:) now, while we have the chance/time (Holmes, ‘right now get rid of time-wasting’), not when death is actually happening (Wallace, ‘with its implements prepared’ – presumably the reference to ‘gathering provisions/necessities’ refers to things such as illness, injury, aging); one will naturally abandon one’s laziness when death is leaning over you, but by then it is too late; as Batchelor brings out, this verse is in reply to the prevaricating of the lazy mind that has been forced to accept that death is inevitable but that it’ll do something about it (making use of the PHR) later; the Wallaces’ translations of Sanskrit and Tibetan shows that the emphasis on gathering virtue now rather than wait for deathbed-regret, is a Tibetan addition/emphasis (… although I’m not sure that closer reading of either the Sanskrit or Tibetan maintains this distinction incontrovertibly …)

Parallel/Echo: death gathering the conditions for our death // we should be gathering the accumulations of merit and wisdom the while

Verse: the whole verse seems to have the flavour of ‘if you wait … then it will be too late’, but I am not skilled-enough at reading the Sanskrit to see if that is how it is really meant; the Tibetan seems to leave out death’s ‘preparations’ emphasising, rather, it’s sudden arrival

Bodhisattvacharyavatara: Chapter VII, Joyous Effort – verse 6; reflectionary & verses 3-6 embroidery

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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 6

Transglomeration: And the lord of death has already caught sight of you and closed off all possible exit.   How can you continue taking pleasure eating and copulating, and how can you, contented, turn round and go back to sleep?

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 5 evidence of death all around, but I sit chewing the cud
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 6 while death watches me, has my whole life covered

Reflection: immanence of death – how enjoy worldly pleasures (simile: being ‘eyeballed’ (Berzin) by the Lord of Death); if death were actually standing by me, watching everything I do, waiting for his chance, I would not able to find anywhere or place to get away from his sight, how could I enjoy a piece of cake, watching a film, sleeping; death exposes the lie of the kleśas that there is pleasure or constancy to be gained in this life: they lead only to birth, and then death

Reflection: this is meant to be shocking (shocking to what?), shocking to my own complacency, shocking to me thinking it’s probably alright, I can just feel good about this, I can just eat that, I can take some time out for the other … recent dreams about school – still! – about not quite being in control, bridge through my waking to thoughts of incredulity that they didn’t listen to me, didn’t take what I had to give seriously, spills through into my waking life where I am easily barbed by a change of plan (‘I thought I knew what I was doing’), where I am easily emptied of self-confidence because, far less than not seeing an immediate effect (just about tolerable if I keep my eye raised to the horizon), the slightest questioning or lack of expected response throws me into deep and angry self-doubt, that I haven’t gotten anywhere, that what I thought was the way is just another instance of me … not quite being in control of this class, and the biggest embarrassment of all is my own, for myself, ‘I thought I had it’ before I really did; death will prod me out of wallowing in this (because there definitely is no gain from wallowing around prolonging the feeling that I don’t know anything, that I can’t do anything, that I can’t have an effect etc.), and later in the chapter will be the development of a self-confidence (in the Vow I have taken) to actually do something about it (rather than think I might have the answer already)

Reflection: when playing with my cat, dangling something for her to ambush, at some point she’ll crouchlow, I’ll slow the dangling to a slight drag along the floor, she’ll have already tested the environs for open doors, under tables, chairs, beside cupboards during the preliminary playing, her eyes quickly double-check them from her central position, she has anticipated everything, she could make whichever move from where she is jusslikethat, belly on the ground, she can’t be seen but her eyes are now completely fixed, chin on the ground, ears back, she lets the quarry do a few moves without any reaction at all, she can take her time, she knows the outcome; death knows my outcome, fixes me with his piggy little eyes, watches me scrape myself into ever-receding corners until there is nowhere left that I might hope to escape from this nagging ennui anymore, but I can’t see him, he’s crouched low where I least expected he’d be, he’s so where I least expected him to be that I’d put off thinking he was anywhere around anyway … except for this faint haunting, this beguiling echo when I thought I was most out in the open; but it’s me he’s fixed on, it really is me; there’s nothing I can do about it, the least I can do is drop this infantile hubris that Mark Redford has got this and damned-well grow up and face it in the time I have left

Embroidery [3-6]: saṃsāra is a way of being which runs contrary to how things exist; it runs contrary because it is a way of being which is predicated on there being a ‘self’ ready-made with some reflex notion of a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; this pre-predicated reflex thrives the better the less it is analysed but the more it is fed; the perpetuation of this way of being comes about through habit, through being used to operating like this, through exercising that right before all else; there is no better way to exercise this right than through laziness: the laziness of not questioning the basis of this self and the laziness of indulging in the feeding of this self in the many ways it requires; [3] when there is no dis-satisfaction with saṃsāra – a wilful ignorance wherein the self, and the life that the self leads, is not questioned, but just indulged, even consumed – then the attachment and the hate run riot holding high a triumphant banner of self-justification … the be-coming of the self is reinforced with every breath it takes, so much so that perpetuates its own momentum, all one has to do is sit back, and the momentum does the rest leading you deeper and deeper (lower and lower) into this predicated existence; it thrives on laziness once it really gets going; verses 4-6 start to give the lie to this laziness, this satisfaction of being, by introducing the immediate and shocking flaw in this way of being, [4] which is death: as soon as a ‘self’ is propounded it is born, as soon as a ‘self’ is born it immediately embroils death (as soon as there is the crescendo of a ‘1’ then there is the immediate context of the ‘0’ from which it extrapolated); the stronger the ‘self’ the harder the death, the longer the ‘self’ perpetuates despite death, the more it has to inevitably lose; any being despite its own context is an extrapolation which has lost its own bearing, it is a needless being, it is a pointless being, it is a selfish being; as soon as it, the ‘self’, ‘be’s despite its own whole and complete existence, it instigates for itself a whole universe of ‘not-me’ with which it struggles with its weapons, the kleśas of attachment and hatred and so many others … death is the redress of this obscene and embarrassing tantrum of being; [5] but do we listen to it, do we heck: we see it as the spoiler of our fun and we pretend it doesn’t happen the better to chew our own cud, we are that self-propounded and self-perpetuated that we cannot stop; so verse [6] wracks up the reality, labours it, beats us over the head with it, ‘look, here it is’ – slap! – ‘it’s been eyeing you since your latest birth – all 60 of them, Mark, all 60 trillion of them, Mark’s mind – all the time with a beady eye; and there you are eating jam on toast again thinking “I’m safe now, it won’t happen now”’; the first step out of laziness is facing death

Determination: the first step out of the laziness of a needlessly extrapolated and indulgent life is to face death

silence

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                                silence

                there –
                in the round

                some threw fluting gapes
                three to engulf the fourth

                some were cleaved peacefully
                head from leading shoulder

                some wore a chemise, others a shalwar,
                others a collar, one a hand-towel draped quickly over the shoulder be back in a minute

                one projected flanks like enveloping wings
                unaware as she nodded

                her neighbour bathed in the same return, the other sat
                comfortably on nothing at all

                the man held the frame
                with perseverance to allow the shape

                the woman privately understood
                most of what everyone thought, only the

                child contained in the mothers’ arm
                watched the walls dance phantasmagoric

                and only the windows let in
                the blue blue sun

 

Quakers sit in light to worship

 

 

————w(O)rmholes________________________________|—–

being & sitting wormhole: ‘and is there homage …’
blue & windows wormhole: ‘from the cathedral window two stories / high …’
child wormhole: LIGHT HEARTED WILLIAM by William Carlos Williams
doing & light & thinking wormhole: Four Noble Truths
emptiness wormhole: none and all
mother wormhole: The Boats of Vallisneria by Michael J. Redford – The Valley
others & shadow wormhole: poessay XI – piquant love
silence wormhole: travel // when I die
sun wormhole: Lapping Reflections [Deep Within Waters] – valley
walls wormhole: looking hard enough
woman wormhole: Pont Neuf, Paris, 1902

 

Bodhisattvacharyavatara: Chapter VII, Joyous Effort – verse 5; reflectionary

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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 5

Transglomeration: And do I still not see all these ones about, my mothers, felled and finished with, one by one, without let?   And all the while I am one who allows himself a complacent slumber like the buffalo unperturbed before the butcher!

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 4 cornered prey, trapped in birth after birth
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 5 evidence of death all around, but I sit chewing the cud

Glimpse: living (life) in ignorance of death (simile: the buffalo asleep with the butcher – Sharma, ‘…and the butcher’s sword breathing over its neck, one goes on chewing the cud of illusory joys…’); everyone else is dying

Reflection: making the implication of verse 4 even more explicit, there’s nothing clever going on here, no subtlety of argument: death is immanent, it’s there, it’s right behind you!   It really is!   Verses 4-6 are driving the point home, verse 4 a hook – makes us look completely the other way; verse 5 a body punch, right in the ribs, makes us look stupid, wo wind; verse 6 the downing KO, this is what happens when you live stupidly; and what is ‘stupid’: in verse 5 it is the wilful ignorance we exercise, the ostrich-reaction to what is the single most definite thing in life – death; and this is beyond the ‘o, people die’ realisation, the flippant ‘no one can live forever and can I have that last piece of pizza’, and neither is it the perverse reaction to death that makes a ghoulish fetish and fashion out of it, this should be the realisation that should bite, sink its teeth in and draw blood – the fact that we are still sitting around, chewing the cud, means that that realisation has not bitten; `makes us look really stupid

Determination: if I am really serious about making anything out of my life anything more meaningful than swallowed cud, there needs to be an edge that pricks me out of complacency; now!

Bodhisattvacharyavatara: Chapter VII, Joyous Effort – verse 4; reflectionary

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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 4

Transglomeration: Baited then caught in the traps of the hunters, the kleśas, these disruptive emotions; here I am, snared and trapped in birth after birth, endlessly becoming.   And still do I not see that I am lying here in the open jaws of the lord of death?

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 3 languishing in rebirth and becoming through inertia, sleep and learnt-dependence
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 4 like cornered prey, trapped in birth after birth

Simile: kleśas (trappers, hunters), those minds that consent to a sense of a self, distinct from other >>> birth (trap/net and being trapped), the exercise of those kleśas in the building up and identifying that sense of self as a person, self-identity >>> death (mouth of the trapper, death; once trapped, death is inevitable), that once exposed and out on a limb as a self, the downfall of the self is inevitable; kleśas > birth > death happens inexorably

Reflection: there is such a mass out there, in here, of constantly connecting, branching, tiding, consuming, conflicting, incompatible, over-laying, undermining, influencing, exploiting, accruing causes and conditions, like an overwhelming mass of muscle with ever-renewing fibres of connective tissue pulling in all directions, like a self-propelling idea with ever-firing synapses in all directions; and I need to haemorrhage from it all so that I am not consumed by it (but how do I adhere in the first place, and at all – because I seek to define myself in and amidst this amorphous mass of cause and conditioning; if I need to haemorrhage from it I need to dismantle this very needy self that came into existence when I was born and fears that it will go out of existence when it dies (as all cause and conditioning inevitably does) before it was able to prove itself); but I do not need to ignore it for concern of all others caught in the same unnecessary drag and whirl, I do not just inure myself from the mire (even if I do have to lose that self to inure it) and think the job is done; look at all my brothers and sisters bumping into their own walls, I’ve got a job, here, to do

Reflection: … in the human realm, certainly, there is a proliferation, a saturation even, of cause and conditionality within which we exercise our lifetimes and even, to some extent, which we understand: we build our civilisations and technology and science upon it, we personally define our ‘selves’ according to how we navigate through cause and conditionality; but our understanding is, necessarily, only human, it is only a political or social or institutional or technological or economic understanding of how the mass (the chaos) of cause and conditioning can be made to work to a specific goal: from the time the ape triumphantly picked up the bone to the graceful according waltz of the spaceship rendezvous we have channelled cause and conditionality to make the various froth of civilisations through which we live, and this channelling has been achieved by selectivity, by de-finition, by dividing and exclusivising, by hierarchizing … by the exercising of will on cause and conditionality to hone an outcome; we, as humans, have the ability – and have exercised it – to play cause and conditionality, to make certain things happen despite the amorphous mass of cause and condition that is all about – but we are also trapped and caught in those very same outcomes that we ourselves channelled, we are stuck being one side or the other (king or peasant, rich or poor, have or have not) of whichever dichotomy we are proximate to because we are defined by it, and we are such a clever species that we can be proximate to many more than one dichotomy; because the channelling serves a self, the manipulation of cause and conditionality narrows the plethora of possible outcomes to serve a particular need of a self, and because there are all these other ‘selves’ about, the prevailing ‘channel’ becomes the one through which the majority of others can define themselves compromised, whether willingly or coerced; it is the exercise of will over cause and conditionality which defines the human experience; (those practised in the exercise of magic practise the same exertion of will over cause and conditionality which bypasses established political, economic routes of cause and conditionality through tapping into more subtle fibres and synapses of cause and conditionality – but it is nevertheless the exercise of will over (caused and conditioned) existence); OK, so the ethical question arises: is this exercise of will to serve the needs of the selfs (i.e. ‘I’ and, by mutual distinction, ‘other’), good, or not … depends on the extent to which the channelling of causes and conditions is for the sake of a self over and against other selves (on either a macro or micro level) (i.e. selfish, not good), or whether it is for the sake of others over and against oneself (i.e. better, but unsustainable), or whether it is exercised with no sense of self (one’s own or others’) at all (good, as in, wise; wise, as in, plays within cause and conditionality without self-reference, which can only be fully appreciated when cause and conditionality are realised to be empty of any self at all in order to be causal and conditional … emptiness); so, as with chapter 6 which largely played out the exercise of other-concern in the cause and conditional context of difficulty and frustration, chapter 7 likewise exercises will/effort in the cause and conditional context of inertia and self-defeat; but, again as already noted, there is a ‘wise accommodating with’ in the exercise of patience, there is a ‘wise making so’ with effort – the dynamics are contrasting although the wisdom is the same

Reflection: this is very redolent of the suffering of conditioned aggregates – that having the body and receptors of a human being, I am inexorably to experience the fulfilments and frustrations of a human life according to both the constructive and destructive tendencies I packed with me when I came.   The fact that I just don’t feel right today is a peculiarly human condition which might even drag me back for a whole day or week; it is a feeling and drag that could not even remotely occur to my cat who is made up of an altogether different physiology and psychology and sense of self – she has the aggregates of a cat, she suffers from a desperation around feeding that I, a rationalising human, need not suffer from; how these kleśas perceive and develop within me and my cat are wholly dependent on the psycho-physical aggregates which we respectively spent many lifetimes accumulating before; and here we both are, wandering about our lives and bumping into our respective walls, both of us also wilfully (well, actually, that’s only for me, as I have the human mind-aggregate) oblivious to the fact that it will all just end some time, the body/mind aggregates will fail and we shall die

Determination: I need to sharpen up my act, I need to sharpen up the realisation of what is going on here, I need to do more than simply run around after the next feed, however I might cleverly conceive of it being a human being; (‘… and may it increase infinitely’).

Bodhisattvacharyavatara: Chapter VII, Joyous Effort – verse 3; reflectionary

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Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Acharya Śāntideva

Chapter VII– verse 3

Transglomeration: Lounging about in bittersweet pleasure, abandoning myself to daydream and sleep rendering me inured to the sufferings inherent to the rounds of becoming in life, engenders laziness to grow within me, complete and thorough.

~~~ “BCA” ~~~

V. 2ii – obstacles of the four lazinesses
↑ Stitch ↓
V. 3 which spring from languishing in rebirth and becoming through inertia, sleep and learnt-dependence

Wording: ālasya – lethargy, indolence, inactivity; caused by:

  1. (Berzin, ‘relishing’) a taste for worldly, ephemeral joys
  2. excessive craving for sleep/torpor (Berzin, ‘as a haven’)
  3. absence of disillusion with, insensible to, apathy towards, unconcerned with sasāra (Sharma, we remain in saṃsāra ‘like worms wriggling in a dirty drain’); (Matics, ‘an eagerness to be protected’); (Crosby & Skilton, ‘the longing to lean on others’); is this what Chögyam Trungpa called ‘nostalgia’ for saṃsāra?;

Personal Reflection:

  1. attachment to the good quote, the skyline scene, eating, (the need for recognition?), what things looked like at the moment of the inspiration;
  2. sleeping, anyway, but also the going-into-neutral zone of my life when it all becomes a little too overwhelming (or even when it isn’t overwhelming, but I don’t know what to do with the question of existence), wanting to zone-out into a film or television or music or comics, wanting to be able to hit the right perspective which will carry me through a situation in idle;
  3. thinking ‘it’ll be alright’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’ when giving in to self-indulgence;

Reflection: so this is exploring the lack of a mind of renunciation from saṃsāra, but also situating it within the Vow that a Bodhisattva has taken to liberate all beings from all suffering … and here I am, Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses and flip-flops thinking ‘sometime I oughta do something about all this’

Determination: to engage myself in mindful activity and engagement, like keeping my abdomen through all movements