Miracles happen all the time

Miracles happen all the time. In fact, they never not happen. Which is the problem. To be even half awake is to know that what happens to you could not have happened if only the law of averages was operating, or if Chaos was purely chaotic. This world is ruled by Chaos and Eros, two entities that are not arbitrary. On the contrary, they are blindingly, powerfully sensical, symmetrical, magnetic, besotted with forms, rife with the improbable but inevitable, drenched in glorious necessity. It would be a mistake, however, to think that the operations of Chaos and Eros intend you personally. They could care less about you and even less about what you think. Coincidences, synchronicities and miracles happen to you because you are a particular object in the eddy that flows in and through you, creating paradoxical instants. If Chaos and Eros should have any other purpose than play and expansion, it is in a different universe. In this one, they thrive on incongruity, but also on repetition and exhibitionism.

         To be “drawn somewhere,” as most people explain being where they feel that they should be, or to experience the migraine of a quadruple deja-vu in one quarter of an hour, or to find out that friends, movies stars, and your pet, all of which are named “Carl” share the same birthday, is nothing more than the obvious. All those congruences people like to call “fate,” are what happens if you move through the world without an ideology or at least a system, borne aloft like a cork on the spumes of Chaos and Eros. The tensions you experience are not personal either, though they certainly feel that way; they are the interplay of the partly centrifugal Chaos meeting head-on the partly centripetal Eros. It’s something between them, you’re just an exchange switch inside the miracle-making machine.

         Now the fact that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer belongs to a human-made order inside the grandeur of the gaming universe, and it partakes only partially of the great forces. There is a sub-world in the flows of necessity, which is the statistical reality most people believe is the only one. This actuarial, measurable, fairly predictable reality tracks the flows of wealth, keeps locks at critical points of the libidinal reservoir, and is generally useful in keeping the tri-partite structure of Law, Church, and Business in rasonable working order. In the interstices between institutions, in the gray areas between different jurisdictions, the wavering borders of incompatible forms, the stuff of Chaos and Eros flows like everywhere else, only (seemingly) a bit slower.

         Man did not find herself at the center of the universe coincidentally. Certain men decided that it was impossible to live in a miraculous world, one in which words are deeds, sense is mocked, joy fuels cosmic collapses, and superstition grips everyone with a greedy hand. A world like that, even if inevitable, does nothing for hygene and the food supply. They decided, quite rightly, to make a series of livable islands right in midst of the raging torrents of the self-propelled universals, and to live on them as if things made sense. These were the 18th century Illuminists, the men we owe democracy and individual rights to. Those highly cherished but artificial concepts do not concern the gods. Their job is miracles, ours is to live decently. The human world is incompatible with the miracle-making universe, which is why we must ignore Chaos, Eros, coincidence, symmetry, beauty without end, and the fireworks of criminal genius, at all times, except between the hours of two and five a.m. in the bloom of our youth. The rest of the time, sadly, we must act as if we live in a cute box.

SHANE MONDS ORCHESTRAL WORK BASED ON THE FORGIVEN SUBMARINE

Houston School of Music, September 30 2018

by Shane Monds, Ruxandra Cesereanu & Andrei Codrescu

Submarinul Iertat (Forgiven Submarine) was written in Romanian by email by Ruxandra Cesereanu, a well-known Romanian poet, founder of the Oneiric Movement (Dream School) and Andrei Codrescu, an American poet born in Romania who emigrated to the U.S and started writing in English at the age of nineteen. The two poets explored a language that was both current and forgotten by means of this mysterious "submarine." When it was late night in New Orleans it was daytime in Transylvania, and vice-versa. The poets wrote in a trance of insomnia, alternating voices as "woman" and "man," often switching genders. The lush imagery and unusual method resulted in a book first published in a limited de-luxe edition in Romania by Editura Brumar, then in English in Andrei Codrescu's translation, by Black Widow Press. This unique experiment across languages and time-zones was highly praised and awarded in Romania, and it is often cited as an iconic fin-de-millenium experiment.

Having been drawn to this work for nearly a decade, I considered setting it as a collection of songs. However, because the language is so unique and independent on its own, I found that I was better able to capture its atmosphere in an instrumental medium. I opted to create an orchestral work (similar to a tone-poem) wherein I channel the series of tableaus where small threads of imagery morph kaleidoscopically before the reader, evoking a sort of mythological (and psychedelic) delirious trance state. I hope to successfully render this poem’s distinctive surrealism; its dreamlike and often disturbing illusions; its strangeness, splendor, depth, and seductive power; and its rapidly shifting worlds that are tethered with complex and mysterious visions.

OPENING POEM TO FORGIVEN SUBMARINE

for some time now I felt the need to dive down to a submerged submarine

         to willingly lose myself inside of it not alone but with a drunk fool in tow

         to feel clothed in angels bleeding from their lips

         to feel my hair electrified by a hurricane a mystery of curls

         with a drunken fool in tow we’d make of this a forgiven submarine

         but forgiven by whom for chrissakes

         by god by animals by creatures stinking of something nameless

         I had no idea but I kept humming about this forgiveness stuck in my throat

            panting for wanting to lock myself inside this submerged submersible

FINAL POEM

wounded lame wet filled with one another’s atoms martyrs of incarnate

   poetry

they touch each other’s hands though the rags of the sub torn by salt and

  want

rescued abstractions stand forgiven in smoke circles as if in a museum

but neither god nor the devil can cut these raver’s hair or trim their nails

the submarine was a fetus curled inside another curled fetus

the depths had shiny teeth of fantasy like a Russian doll

in was the curled DNA of salvation opened by two key words whispered

twice by each one of them too easy for a safe-cracker

too sweet for a techno-savage with the dust of cities on his drum

even the torn zipper of feelings could not redeem

only the poetry of ave maria could pierce into a howl

throwing her piano from the eleventh floor so the wolves could hear

summoned under her balcony precisely at the time the piano falls

two endangered species protected by myth poets and wolves cannot

destroy each other to reverse the landscape like a dada sketch

too bad we buried tristan tzara in a sealed container

maybe we could have kept him alive with the amphetamine of a love song

fountain in a mosque this is happiness a pouncing splashing

balm and tar on the two wandering monks with hands full of paper

   snowflakes

cut from a grey bible in which slumber centuries shipwrecked on poetry’s

  island

dream on until you can sing of love or waste yourselves until the warm-bread

  paddy-wagon comes

a misunderstanding a sea-turtle falls blindly on us

with lipstick on our eyelids we renounce blood soul and prayer

in vertical sleep two pilots stand by the fissured night embraced.

The Romanian "revolution," McPherson, Ascher/Straus, Radio Free Europe: a Mystery

McPherson & Company is an independent publisher that issues remarkable books of fiction at a snail's pace. In an unusual twist of the turtle and the hare fable, in which the snail stands for the turtle, McPherson novels connect with the future faster than novels not yet written. In 1988, McPherson released "The Other Planet," a novel by Ascher/Straus, written collaboratively by Sheila Ascher and Dennis Straus, two dyed-in-the wool New Yorkers. The novel takes place in the idea-rich brain of a female protagonist with a Romanian last name. Her brain is so rich the ideas have to be divided between a number of characters, some of whom also have Romanian last names. These ideas ricochet all over the late 1950s, early 60s, between Long Island and Greenwich Village. The writing is deliberately color-field pointilist. For example: "As summer advanced to the point where a discerning eye could see a scorched orange in the green tunnels, Valeria went to more parties than there were days." One of the bearers of this bright prose is Humberto Villanescu, a mephistophelian character that might carry a plot if Ascher/Straus meant to have one.

Ok, now flash forward to the 2017 Brooklyn Book Fair. The publisher, Bruce McPherson, an imposing and serious man, is peddling the novels he has overseen over the decades. He has an urgent message for me. It appears, he says, that the Ascher/Straus novel published in 1988 has sparked the Romanian "revolution" of 1989. A reporter from Radio Free Europe broadcasting under the pseudonym Liviu Floda, had interviewed the authors just before the bloody events of December 1989 when the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, were executed by firing squad in the wake of what some called a "revolution," and others, more accurately, a coup d'etat. The publisher of McPherson & Company wants me to read this novel because the RFE interview had surfaced (in 2017!) and an urgent discussion is going on as to the role of this novel in the murky uprising that ended Soviet dominion over Eastern Europe.

In the weeks following the Brooklyn Book Fair Mr. McPherson sent me transcripts of the interview which consisted mostly of the authors' astonishment at the unlikely connection. The Romanian events of December 1989 are full of many mysteries, but most of them are directly connected to things like assassins, money, and eminences gris-es, and only one, in my experience, to literature. Nonetheless, I read "The Other Planet" twice, in an effort to discern if there was anything in it that might have sparked a disturbance, leave alone a "revolution." Nothing, zilch, nada.

It would be easy to dismiss the matter as the sort of paranoid seed that sprouts more than occasionally in the world of fictioneers and their enablers, but McPherson & Company are mysterious publishers. In 2010, they published "Lord of Misrule," a novel by Jaimy Gordon that won the National Book Award. "Lord of Misrule" was a novel that Jaimy Gordon began and abandoned decades before. She had submitted it to McPherson at least a decade before the end of the 20th century. Mr. McPherson never let off reminding Ms. Gordon about it until the exasperated writer returned to the text and wrote what turned out to be a superb work of fiction that won the highest literary honor.

So, to recapitulate: McPherson works in decades with print works that look like incunabuli in the internet age. "Another Planet" is a mystery that eludes me, but there are weirder things. I propose others give it a go. I might have missed something.