Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not a Death Poem

Nirvana beckons;
I'd rather stay and notice
The stink of ferrets.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Cask of Amontillado in the Practice of Vipassana Meditation, by Quentin S. Crisp

THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I took myself to my meditation room, assumed the lotus position upon the cushion that sat squarely between the four unadorned walls, and started on anapana meditation in order to clear my mind. When some thirty minutes had passed, my mind being sufficiently focused, I moved on to vipassana meditation, observing my bodily sensations, noticing how the subtle vibrations of pleasant sensation or the gross vibrations of unpleasant sensation were both equally subject to the law of impermanence, anicca.

Anicca! Anicca!

Coming again to a state of samadhi and realising that all phenomena arise and pass, arise and pass, I understood the truth of the doctrine of anatta, and comprehended the futility of attachment to any of the phenomena of either mind or matter. Consequently, I found arising a sense of joy, compassion and deep peace.

Leaving my meditation room, I contemplated how best to celebrate my liberation from the bondage of dukkha. I will call my erstwhile enemy, Fortunato, the very enemy upon whom, only an hour or so previously, I had thought of exacting revenge, and I will share with him, I decided, a pipe of Amontillado I had recently come by and stored in my vaults.

I set the table in my dining room, laying places for two, a candelabra between them. I decided upon a light pasta dish with a sauce of my own concoction, sent my servant out with an invitation to Fortunato, and began my preparations. As I was doing so, I remembered of a sudden the Five Precepts of the Sila to which I had made my vows when I took up the practice of vipassana meditation, that I must abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and intoxication.

I slapped my forehead in frustration.

Anicca! Anicca!

The sense of joy and compassion that had arisen now passed. The invitation had been sent out, but my plan had changed.

I would show Fortunato the vault where I kept the Amontillado, yes, but neither he nor I would ever drink that wine, and only one of us would ever leave the vault again.

Anicca! Anicca!

As I put the last brick in place behind which Fortunato had now grown silent, I felt at peace, detached, equanimous, in accordance with the doctrine of anatta - no self and no other.

Equanimous mind.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Justin Isis - The Unassailable Value of Human Dignity

Pissing in my mouth; tearing off testicles; killing enemies; killing all enemies; amassing more territory; amassing more females; Spanish government granting me rights; killing children and crushing throats; amassing power; amassing food; amassing more females; warring with neighboring groups; crushing throats; amassing power; ethicist Peter Singer sympathizing with me; gaining territory; masturbating; pissing; shitting; masturbating;

Fearing others will take my place; killing their children; tearing out throats; amassing power; amassing food; pissing; shitting; humans approaching me; throwing shit at humans; running away from humans; screaming at humans; screaming; eating lower primates; biting off human fingers; Jane Goodall commenting on my lifestyle; crushing and eating children; satisfying my emotional needs at the expense of others; pissing in my mouth; amassing more females; masturbating;

Humans taking me out of my territory; humans putting me in artificial environments; humans making noises at me; humans giving me food; throwing shit at humans; amassing rocks to throw at humans; throwing rocks at humans;

Reading Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, realizing concept of 'rights' implies responsibilities; changing lifestyle to incorporate newly discovered concept of ethics; no longer killing children of enemy groups; no longer dismembering enemies; applying concepts of tolerance and liberalism to all aspects of life;

Applying for jobs in greater metropolitan area; showing up to job interviews wearing neatly-ironed suits; resisting urge to dismember job interviewer and smear shit across the walls; resisting urge to bite off human testicles;

Becoming concerned with environmental preservation; resisting urge to throw shit at humans; removing excess hair at salon; attempting to straighten posture; attending consciousness-raising seminars on interspecies cooperation;

Having sex with animal liberationalist liberals and interspecies sex advocates; licking human vaginas; resisting urge to bite off human vaginal lips; experiencing insecurity over inch-long chimpanzee penis in comparison with longer human penises;

No longer feeling any attraction at all towards chimpanzee females; feeling like a tourist when attending human nightclub events; growing disenchanted with animal liberationists and interspecies sex advocates; attempting sex with mainstream human females;

Receiving condescending stares from unreconstructed humans when walking in public with human girlfriend; wondering whether human girlfriend genuinely cares about my emotional needs or is only interested in me as a chimpanzee; meeting human girlfriend's sincere liberal parents; feeling reassured by atmosphere of tolerance and inclusiveness;

Experiencing intense satisfaction from equal-partnership marriage; discussing emotional needs with human wife; dividing household chores equally with human wife; experiencing intense satisfaction from inclusive and liberal environments supportive of diversity; feeling reassured by the unassailable value of human dignity -

Wondering whether I have "sold out" and unreconstructed chimpanzees have more authenticity than me; feeling simultaneous jealousy and contempt when considering unreconstructed chimpanzees;

Instructing interspecies children not to bite off human testicles or smear shit on walls; instructing interspecies children not to smoke cigarettes; instructing interspecies children to avoid unreconstructed chimpanzees; encouraging interspecies children to pursue extracurricular activities;

Watching interspecies children smearing shit on walls; watching interspecies children biting off human testicles; watching interspecies children mating with unreconstructed chimpanzees; wondering why interspecies children regard me as outdated; discussing emotional insecurities with human wife;


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Radioactive Teacher on the Run, Part I

Donald Leopard leaned against the handrail of the ferry and watched the churning wake spread choppily over the glaucous waves. The clouds above were the colour of seagull shit, and rain was starting to fall. As the South Wales coastline receded, Leopard felt as if he were steadily straining some magnetic force to its elastic limit, and that soon its hold over him would be gone. Soon. Very soon. If only he did not feel so wretchedly sick, perhaps he would even have been elated at his freedom.

He felt spots of rain on his skin now, accompanied by a strange, melting warmth, as if his very skin were dissolving. One spot brushed close to his right ear, and he was sure he heard a tiny sizzle. Could he be imagining it? To be so permeated with that weird, invisible force, that was at once inimical to life and now such a bone-achingly familiar part of his own life, had done strange things to his imagination. Surely he was imagining this now - this acidic, melting feeling. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened his eyes again he saw the section of railing where his hand had just been. Faintly, but unmistakably, it was glowing, a kind of fungoid grey-green.

He recoiled and staggered.

"Excuse me!"

A youngish couple with their two small children were trying to get past him on the deck. He muttered his apologies and skulked unsteadily away.

He needed air, but he also needed to sit down. He would go inside for a while, just sit and keep his head down. Before he knew it that magnetic pull he felt would be gone, and then there would be County Wexford before him. He need not think any further than that at the moment - the rolling grey waves and County Wexford. He coughed into his hand and staggered into the main seating area of the ferry, placing himself on a low PVC seat away from the other passengers.

He hung his head between his hands, as if the sea he were now crossing were the sea of his own sickness, and he simply had to sit and keep himself still and steady for the duration.

"Excuse me."

The voice surprised him with its sense of nearness. He had drifted into a web of greyish clouds of distance inside himself.

He looked up. There was a well-dressed and tanned man standing above him, with streaks of grey in immaculately groomed hair.

"Is this yours? I think you dropped it."

Leopard recognised his notebook at once.

"Yes. That's mine."

The man held it out, but Leopard looked alarmed and did not take it.

"Well, er, do you want it?" asked the man.

"Yes. Perhaps you could put it on the seat in front of me. I'm feeling very ill and... I have a condition, you see. It makes it hard for me to move my arms."

"I'm sorry. Sure. I'll just put it there for you."

The man deposited the book as instructed on the seat in front, looking, now and then, in a puzzled fashion, as Leopard.

Leopard was too tired and ached too much now to try and calculate what was least likely to give him away if someone was suspicious, and the weary, almost bitter words, came to his lips without much thought. "Do I know you?" he asked.

"I don't think so," said the man. "Not many people this side of the Pond do. I mean, I used to be well-known back in the day. Er... Jeff Altman..."

And here he extended his hand.

Leopard gazed at it, as if it were some unidentifiable insect.

"Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot. Can't move your arms. Well, I guess I'll be seeing you. Where you going, by the way?"

"County Wexford," said Leopard.

"Yeah, I guess we're all going there."

"Is there anything I can do for you? Maybe you'd like a glass of water?"

"No. I just have to rest here. Thank you."

"Okay. I hope you feel better soon. If you want a little of the best medicine - laughter, I mean - you could try catching me at my show in town when we arrive. I've got some spare tickets. Here, I'll slip a couple in your notebook. Bring a friend. Bring an enemy. Bring someone who knows how to laugh in the right places."

"Thank you."

"Okay. You take care now."

The man who had called himself Jeff Altman passed on, and Leopard sank once more into the dark grey clouds of his inner distance with relief.

(To be continued...?)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Justin Isis - Economic Circumstances Ni Mo Makezu

Fitter happier
More productive
Not losing to the rain
Not losing to the wind
Not losing to the snow or to the heat of the summer
With a strong body
Unfettered by desire
Never losing temper
Not drinking too much
Regular exercise at the gym [3 times a week]
Getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries
At ease
Cultivating a quiet joy
Eating well [no more microwave dinners or saturated fats]
Every day four bowls of brown rice
Miso and some vegetables to eat
A patient better driver
A safer car [baby smiling in back seat]
Sleeping well [no bad dreams]
No paranoia
Careful to animals [never washing spiders down the plug holes]
Keep in contact with old friends [enjoy a drink now and then]
Will frequently check credit at [moral] bank [hole in the wall]
Favours for favours
Fond but not in love
Charity standing orders
In everything
Count yourself last and put others before you
Watching and listening, and understanding
And never forgetting
On sundays ring road supermarket
[no killing moths or pouring boiling water on ants]
Car wash [also on sunday]
No longer afraid of the dark
Or midday shadows
In the shade of the woods of the pines of the fields
In a little thatched hut
Nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate
Nothing so childish
At a better pace
Slower and more calculated
No chance of escape
Now self-employed
Concerned but powerless
An empowered & informed member of society [pragmatism not idealism]
If there is a sick child to the east
Going and nursing over them
If there is a tired mother to the west
Going and shouldering her sheaf of rice
If there is someone near death to the south
Going and saying there's no need to be afraid
If there is a quarrel or a suit to the north
Telling them to leave off with such waste
Will not cry in public
Less chance of illness
Tyres that grip in the wet [shot of baby strapped in back seat]
A good memory
Still cries at a good film
When there's drought, shedding tears of sympathy
When the summer's cold, walk in concern and empathy
Still kisses with saliva
Like a cat
Tied to a stick
Thats driven into
Frozen winter shit [the ability to laugh at weakness]
Fitter, healthier and more productive
A pig
In a cage
On antibiotics
Called a blockhead by everyone
Without being praised
Without being blamed
Such a person
I want to become