14 May 2005

Now there’s a wall between us, somethin’ there’s been lost
I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed.
Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn.
“Come in,” she said,
“I’ll give you shelter from the storm.”

– Bob Dylan

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:02 am

Martin Schongauer
The Archangel Michael Piercing the Dragon

Click on the pic for a larger version.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

13 May 2005


I know things.
There are shadows I have crossed
that whispered to me
unutterable prophecies,
languages too ancient to perceive
by any natural ear —
and I can only say
that there are certain darknesses
in the blank corners of the world,
doors that disappear,
places that are nowhere at all,
things you do not wish to
fathom: these secrets
you do not desire to hold.
And I think that
even with what I know,
I barely pierce the surface
of what horror exists
and can exist
in hearts very much like yours,
or mine, twisted
beyond recognition.
And this warning or a thought:
as I bide my time, no one
ever asks about
just that particular look in my eye.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

12 May 2005

Thou wilt never be spiritually minded and godly unless thou art silent concerning other men’s matters and take full heed to thyself.

– Thomas à Kempis

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:02 am

Lord, let it be that I am never too busy on any day to pray. Let me never believe that it is not worth the bother, for a few words piping up into the heavens, I think, is to make the life that happens — not the one we plan for, but never have time to do — a blessed life. We often desire great, grand things, that we will make some magnificent gesture that will bring us honor without measure in the eyes of God; but these are often worthless fantasies. We most often are too busy with the day to day to follow our more extravagant pursuits, our dreaming tremendum. So sincerity is to weave what little we can into that day to day: for the little things can build to heroic proportions, if excercised with regular application. Let it be that I remember today to say a few words, and send them in flight. Today does not come again, each moment a chance — whether we take the trouble to bring that chance to mind or not.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

10 May 2005

Night falls, a test if faith will last the dark, not lose itself in the nothingness.

Night falls, and all the stars show themselves from behind the blue curtain of day.

Night falls, and a hundred candles means romance, while one candle stands for hope.

Night falls, but the moon is sometimes a better companion than the sun.

Night falls, a slow exhale of the inbreath, the accumulations of the daylight hours.

Night falls, a cool blanket of midnight blue that collects in it all who rest from motion.

Night falls, and I discover sometimes I can find myself better in the dark.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

9 May 2005

Dream as big as you can. They’re free, after all.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:02 am

I am inspired by all the trivial things of the world,
if the greater questions still all gape open, wide, and unanswered;
one day to gather all my little words into one huge why….

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

7 May 2005

What is it to serve God and to do His will? Nothing else than to show mercy to our neighbor. For it is our neighbor who needs our service; God in heaven needs it not.

– Martin Luther

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:02 am

A. G. Rizzoli: Toure D’Longevity

Click on the pic for a larger version.
This will be the last one.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

6 May 2005

I hope with the deepest hope that those few physicists are wrong, those who posit that there are an infinite many universes, and all things that were ever possible have taken place somewhere, somewhen, if outside this present reality. Because if this were the case, a terrible thought crossed my head: that somewhere, there is a me (and a you) to which the world is horror after horror, unending, with no escape. Yes, the opposite would be true as well, of a Eutopia where it truly is the best of all possible worlds, but they can surely take care of themselves, and give me nil to worry for them. My thought drifts to those whose lives would be consumed in a hell — tell me, someone, that this could not be, mayhap that this universe is all that ever is.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

5 May 2005

Live for the dream, not in one.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:02 am

Sometimes the brief interlude — strange, with a shock of flavor — this will satisfy some of our deep yearnings for adventure. Do something you’ve never done before, and don’t think about how. Let preponderance be gone for five minutes, forget you are you and be famous among the imaginary crowds. Say hello to the person in the mirror, and see yourself as an interested stranger would: an infinite mystery.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

3 May 2005


Winter breathes upon me
like the night upon a loom,
upon an unfinished weave
anticipating warm, sunlight hands to grow.
I am caught in this sparse stillness,
in light frozen by the snow,
time that waits
for an emergent percussion to tap tap tap
awake the next fragmentary rhythm,
the next of songs that
heartbeats tend to follow.
Have I always, though, been carried along
by the alternation between
the dark and the light,
this rat instinctively clawing toward
the difference? (But this is
a casual anguish, only.) The air, now,
can be a frigid forgetting
here in the minding of the moment.
It would seem I do not remember
how it is, exactly, I arrived;
I forget to wonder why.
This rat is merely sniffing
for when the next tide is to turn, breathing
in the frozen light,
exhaling warm darkness,
knows enough
not to stray too far
from what it knows.
The threads that make me up,
the hundred weaves
that make the pattern: me me me me:
I will not know which thread, the last.
Or that pattern, what it is,
see merely the colors of the yarn,
fragmentary stories
in some incomprehensible array
of things that happen, and things I do.
Some of it makes sense, I will admit.
I find I breathe upon winter
as if I were beginning to say something,
but I am as frozen
as a finished pattern,
or as still as one pretending to be.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

2 May 2005

Breakdown Philosophy

I was having a bad day. A friend of mine had just stated that my poetry had no voice, and my brother expressed concern that I was now unemployed. And I wondered about it all, whether I was ever meant for anything great, like sometimes, I had felt that I was. And I considered what meaning there was to me, to this “I am”, if there was anything to salvage of this existence. Then, as I walked through the philosophy section of a bookstore, past Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy — where he breaks down everything and tries to start thinking about everything from scratch — I was struck by a thought, and then another, and when I was writing those two down in the little notebook I always carry, a third:

  1. I don’t know who I am.
  2. I don’t know what I want.
  3. I don’t know what I know.
And I realized, this is my cogito. This is breaking everything down, and going to the place that Socrates spoke of, knowing that I knew nothing. And maybe a central tenet would be that a heartbreak is the beginning of all self-realization, the breakdown of all the illusions one might have had that made him live in a rose-colored world. This could be the solace of all of us who don’t know why, and don’t know why they hurt. Because when you realize these things, you blow past those who live in their illusions, or even those who live in comfort that may be real, but who are above all the pain.

One at a time: I don’t know who I am…. If asked the question, “Who are you?” and the answer is your name, it is like asking, “What is a chair?” and answering, “a chair”. What am I? A human being. What does that mean? I don’t think anyone can answer that in a volume less than the size of some of the fatter books in existence. And usually, that is a roundabout way of saying, “I don’t know.” Even listing your geneology, “I am the son of so and so plus so and so,” doesn’t answer the question of who you are. For you, my friend, are something that never has been before, and never will be again. It is good to know the history of how you came to be, but that does not answer who you’re supposed to be, however many similarities you have with those from before. I understood this: I don’t know who I am. And maybe you don’t know who you are, either.

I don’t know what I want…. This was actually the first one I thought of. Perhaps it was because it probably is the easiest one to realize. There were so many things I wanted, mostly things I wanted to do, but those great abstract things, too, like comfort, happiness, and security — but why did I want these things? This life — it had been joining in something already on its way, and ahead of me where I entered were the several choices I could have, so I went after them. But what if I had joined at some other space and time? Wouldn’t I have wanted different things just as much as what I wanted now? So it might be that these desires of mine were simply things I landed in. And what I really wanted — I had never really thought about it, merely seeking after what I believed was important. I do not know what I really want. My desires are accidental, as are the reasons why I want them. Why do you want what you want?

I don’t know what I know…. This was the one I thought of when I was writing down the other two. It is very similar to Socrates’ statement on knowledge. Stated in a different way, I am wrong about everything. I have made do with the knowledge, per se, as it was casually referred to, but it could probably be said that the stunning fact of human discovery is that all our theories will turn out to be mistaken in some way. Be it of heaven or earth, we will never get it right. On a more personal level, we are told many things as we grow up, but learn ourselves the harsh realities that refute the morals to the fairy tales. And then what experience teaches us, these lessons need not always apply to our world, either, and usually not to anyone else. What I know, I do not know. They are all guesses, either made by me or someone else. What do you know?

So what do these mean for me? Why I call it “Breakdown Philosophy”: it is a breakdown that comes from a breakdown: realization that comes from heartbreak, life broken down to fundamentals that may not be clear unless you’re in that vulnerable state when nothing at all makes sense. If you’re not in heartbreak right now, save this for when next it will happen, for being the human beings that we are, and the world being the world, it will happen. It is an experiential philosophy; you’ll see when you get there. The world looks different when stripped of the casual illusion we for the most part take as truth. It is not an end, but a beginning — a sort of freedom. At least, it is something to hold onto when your world is falling to pieces. And if it is nothing else, that might just be enough.

posted by John H. Doe @ 12:01 am

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