Writing on graph paper?

new sitting on the bulging old

I hesitated writing in the Miquel Rius journal when it arrived in the mail, never really thought of graph paper as a place to put words, it reminded me too much of math class.

Eventually, I leaned into and decided I loved writing against little graph squares, the paper was smooth, and no bleed through, even as I used the Pigma micron markers.

As I came to the very last pages, I decided to repurchase it because I enjoyed writing in it so much. I usually go for the ornate covers, the pretty designs, but the soft black cover that allowed me to punch holes to create a little makeshift closure gave me a strange pleasure. I loved the way it looks and feels.

Here’s a little video comparing how filled out it can become, and still remain intact, cause it does feel flimsy, and how it looks like when it’s brand new:

It’s available at Barnes and Noble here for 9.95$, which is not bad considering some journals can cost way more for less pages, this guy has 300 pages and allowed me to journal for a year and a half. Some journals would only afford me six months.

Why do I use a journal? It’s my therapist, plain and simple. If someone were to ask you what you’re feeling and can’t find the words- write it down. I feel more comfortable expressing myself on paper than I do with simple speech. I feel that talking causes me to regress to what is expected of me rather than what I’m actually feeling.

I think that if everyone took some time in their day to reflect their emotions on paper, that nervous energy would be streamlined, and emotions would be easier to understand once the words are right in front of you, but that’s just me. Why do you journal?

“Is not every word an impulse on the air?”

Agathos (trans. good) Oinos (trans. wine)

Good wine. The elixir of the gods. An offering to the ethers from Edgar Allan Poe.

“OINOS: Pardon, Agathos, the weakness of a spirit new-fledged with immortality!” We have Oinos now conscious of their spirit in death as they approach Agathos, an angel, a guide now helping Oinos in the beginning of this new journey of the spirit beyond the mortal realm.

The conversation touches upon the idea that now in death, everything should be known, all the mysteries eluding the spirit in mortal form now fully fledged, opened, and known. But it is not so because even God doesn’t know all.

OINOS: But does not The Most High know all?
AGATHOS: That (since he is The Most Happy) must be still the one thing unknown even to Him.
OINOS: But, since we grow hourly in knowledge, must not at last all things be known?

This is something that plagues people, shouldn’t we know all once we leave the mortal form behind, isn’t it the point? The mysteries now revealed?

“The Power of Words” is a beautiful force upon the conscious mind who is in constant titillation of wanting to know all. The soul, after all is not made to have the knowledge and that’s it, to swallow the facts and close satisfied like a mouth, “the sole purpose is to afford infinite springs, at which the soul may allay the thirst to know, which is forever unquenchable within it- since to quench it, would be to extinguish the soul’s self.”

The continual creation from the catalyst of God’s first creation is a ripple effect that can be traced down to the atom. Even the soul’s material is dependent on this motion, to move constantly in the direction of knowing, and to not want to know is akin to the soul’s death. The stagnant mortal body now perishes, the vehicle of immortality now snuffed. The mortal will never taste the immortality gifted to them.

OINOS: Then all motion, of whatever nature, creates?
AGATHOS: It must: but a true philosophy has long taught that the source of all motion is thought- and the source of all thought is-

What is the point? A constant search for knowledge? That, for some is simply not entertaining and certaintly not something that seems to be of interest insofar it gets them to an end.

It’s all about the process: the struggle to one problem and its solution to another theory and its summation of an inkling of a truth. We don’t live to die, we live to live and to enjoy that living.

Oinos is said to be “one” but its Greek translation is “wine”. I believe Poe intended it to be wine. Agathos’ Greek translation is “good”.

Here’s some good wine, is how I see it. Here’s a conversation laden with potential for you, here’s an offering to the dark shadows in your mind, let me pour it out here. And since “The Power of Words” is meant to signify how we speak things into existence, just as Agathos helped God speak the Earth into existence, everything laid before is the friction of the match before the spark blooms into fire, in other words, this isn’t meant as prose but an explanation of the power that the mortal possesses as one speaks their life into existence, how those words then form the foundations of their life and then how the fullness of the expression can make the wholeness of a life lived. The point dear mortal is to live, to ask, to seek, and then to transcend with this knowledge into the next one.

Philosophy is but a poetical explanation of the self set in motion by the thoughts that if it were traced back can be pinpointed to God, the original creator. We continue not to merely continue, the blooms of everything is an expression looking for the words. We find them, we speak them, and the power behind them can literally make a world.

“The Power of Words” (originally published in the Democratic Review, June 1845) in Tales, Sketches and Selected Criticism by Edgar Allan Poe.

a letter for maple

cold isn’t the right word yet. brisk? cool? it’s something blue though, something that blends into the red and smears it with purple. there’s also the blue breeze blowing against your skin and it makes you shiver. i see you shake off a bit of your gold. copper? rust? something dying i suppose and being taken by the blue wind that makes the skin turn purple. it hurts now, a fresh paper cut. the warmness was too much but it was comforting in the grayness of the shadows huh? and there one could daydream comfortably waiting for a cool drink. i suppose you’re tired anyway and can’t wait for sleep. it has been mistaken for death for so long. what will you dream about? the sun won’t leave you, even as everything cools down to blueberry evenings, there the sun will be winking between the grey clouds. grey never leaves. maybe the green. the colors always stay maple, that i’m sure of. no matter how much we turn away, there they’ll be pulsing according to their moods. my mood, maple? oh honey, my moods are now dancing with the sky. the moon extends her skirts every now and then getting caught in my curls. the stars they pounce at every turn of the rhythm to catch a glimpse of my scanning eyes. maple dear, do not fret, sleep. i’ll take repose now and then but i won’t forget you. when you rise from your dreams i’ll be better for you, i promise.

On Heartbreak

“I deserve to be loved!”, we exclaim. “I don’t deserve to be treated like this”, we rightfully argue.

People like to talk about the lesson in pain, how we can learn from the failure of not being loved how we think we should.

But we don’t listen. We sulk, cry, and throw tantrums. In all honesty, you can count yourself as a normal, emotionally healthy human being until someone breaks your heart- you then become monstrous.

We never really take time to ask ourselves the real questions because we feel time runs out too fast, you gotta live in the now! So go for it! run and crash into mountains trying to get right through, fall off every hill, bruise, get dirty and live!

And yet, when fate decides, “enough child” it ties your arms and legs and you gotta sit with all the repercussions of your behavior. Now you see the bruises, now you feel the pain- how’d that happen?

The true wisdom of life is this: you have to become so aware of yourself and your environment, so you know exactly who you are and what grounds you walk on. Everything else is just interpretations.

You can’t just throw yourself like garbage at someone and hope for the best. You can’t expect to be loved if you don’t know what that means. You can’t believe everyone’s perception of you and act according to that view and expect you’ll be okay in the long run.

We only hurt because it signals that what we believed isn’t true. Deception is a puzzle we keep trying to figure out in each other’s eyes. But liars are just people who don’t like being aware of themselves and like to deceive because it feels better than trying to just be. And why do we want to be like that? Why would we want to love someone like that?

Wisdom, remember, is awareness.

Every lie will be detected, no one can hide, and some people like to hurt others and feel pain themselves- they realized that just being brings nothing of value to them. So, they break their own hearts and other’s hearts just for the fun it brings, it changes their lives, calamity is a chance for them to truly live in it.

“But I deserve to be loved”, then learn to love the self, “but I love myself, I want someone to love me”, then let yourself be loved, “no, not that one, or that one, no not that one

You need to understand what love is, not what it should look like. We’ve been duped by fairytales, and we’ve been lied to since we took our first step in this world.

What is love though?

It is a commitment to care for another, to extend the inner compassion outwards.

Romantic love?

A reconciliation of two hearts in discord, reaching a common ground to repair and grow the selves, not just separately but together.

We’re seduced by words and promises too easily and never realize anyone can make themselves an adept snake charmer.

But real love needs you to be so aware of yourself none of that will sway you. You will detect the lies, the deceit.

Two souls destined to intertwine will eventually find each other. But you can’t open that pathway, you can’t let the energetic soul tie make their way towards you if you’re too busy closing that pathway by entertaining and being entertained by the clownish attempts of snake charmers.

Everyone deserves love. The real question is: Will you be able to recognize it when it makes its way towards you?

On Defeat: A Meditation on Failure.

The whole of our human life depends on its success as a story so it can be an inspirational map so others can follow.

That’s too much pressure.

You’re still alive? Success. You’re still going? Success.

The material needs of a human being is only necessary given the societal circumstances. We don’t need so much crap.

You got food? shelter? some clothes you can wear? a beautiful success story.

Prestige is for the leeches. Trophies exist to satisfy the poorly constructed ego. The rich are a plague.

So, what is defeat? What is complete failure?

We shame the poor and wince at the thought of ruin. Humiliation for the human being is not having enough to show the world they made it, that they’re truly successful, look at me, look at all my things!

Being humbled brings us shame and so we hurry up to try to cover this humiliation. We blame ourselves for not doing enough and we shame others for not doing enough. But what is enough?

We are programmed to want more so when we see someone who has less but is still happy it causes confusion. Shouldn’t they want more? bigger? better? Why aren’t they defeated by their material lack, aren’t they ashamed of this failure?

Why do some of us feel humiliated when we are asked, “why don’t you want more?”

To be humiliated for material lack highlights how programmed we’ve become, we don’t even ask why do we need so much. Not just the necessary, which is even something that’s becoming more expensive by the day, but an excess that is supposed to signal some kind of earned success.

We always have enough, that’s the honest truth and that’s something to be admired, to be awed at, not just feel gratitude, but awe.

Humility in the hands of the rich is a crime. Humility in the hands of fate is a lesson. Two separate things.

We’re so busy shaming each other’s poverty while the rich hoard up the resources and destroy communities just so they could have a little more, and a little more, some more, a never-ending pursuit of just a little more.

True failure is not understanding your value as a living being. True defeat is letting the tides of others drown you, letting others decide for you instead of digging deep inside and finding out the true treasure, the promised eternity, the golden chalice the myths talk about- your soul.

Regardless of what anyone says, you are successful. You’re still here, you’re still breathing, against all odds here you are with all your might waking up to another day. What a success, what a triumph, bravo.

The Wild Iris

Louise Glück’s lyrical voice springs up from the deep recesses of her soul onto the essence of the flowers, the spirits and to god. The meditative contemplation of what it means to be alive and crossing to the conflicting feelings of fitting your life in the confines of the reality of death. She undresses it all delicately plucking the shadows off of the petals, the days, and the seasons.

A rebirth happens, “hear me out: that which you call death I remember” (The Wild Iris). Glück goes on to speak to god as a monk who toils in god’s garden in prayers, poems she names “Matins”. God responds, and so do the spirits residing in the garden, near the flowers, “you are all the same to us, solitary, standing above us planning your silly lives…” (Scilla). Glück seems to make god’s voice as a resentful entity, a little indifferent to the suffering because in the end its not that god doesn’t care, it’s because our lives are meant to be lived, “you wanted everything told to you and nothing thought through yourselves” (Retreating Light).

It’s interesting how when we come to deal with our mortality, we will extend our hands and point accusingly to a god we make up on our own. Through each poem Glück progresses with this idea, unraveling our human condition to want everything spelled out, “we do not grieve as you grieve, dear suffering master; you are more lost than we are” (Violets). Identifying a great entity as something like us, grabbing them by the ear and scolding them for our existence. In Daises, she plainly argues, “the garden is not the real world. Machines are the real world” as a reciprocation to this god who says, “all this belongs to you: on the other hand, I planted the seeds”.

This argument that bounces like light illuminating these ideas of the world as god’s garden; humans as the creation, and the humble servant monk trying to find a connection to this hard work and its meaning to this god. I think The Wild Iris is such a beautiful collection of poetry, a lyrical meditation on the soul’s longing to reach out its arms to touch this god we’ve been told about.

In my opinion our maker is not some man crossed arms in judgement of his creation, the true god is not like us at all but is an entity that manifests through the bloom and perpetual seeding of life. It’s up to us, through our own observation, aware of the soul residing in us, to speak to god in time. And Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris gives us a glimpse of how that conversation might go. It might be different for everyone, and that’s the beauty in searching within and trying to make sense of what is presented to us as faith and how then we interpret and unravel it in the language of our own individual souls.

Nombrar y Nombrarme

I came across Alejandra Pizarnik from a diary entry last October. This sentence stood out to me: “Ahora se que cada poema debe ser causada por un absoluto escandalo en la sangre” “Now I know that every poem must be caused by an absolute scandal in the blood”. I knew what she meant, how frustrating it feels when you’re pushing yourself to make poetry like you’re a factory spitting out products. It took awhile to really let it sink in because we all have our moments when the things are stirred and then the aftermath is placed within the confines of whatever medium is desired by the soul in that moment.

I became distracted by other things until I came across Pizarnik again by stumbling on this screenshot:

Alejandra Pizarnik in a letter to Silvina Ocampo “Alejandra” (2013), directed by Ernesto Ardito and Virna Molina

I was intrigued and went on a mission to find the movie. It’s from the biographical movie titled Alejandra (2013). I became so enthralled with her story, felt a little validated when learning she too would keep a journal with quotations, and overall felt a sadness in knowing how painful she felt life was and saw no point in continuing trying her hardest to let it all go. Throughout the film, Vanessa Molina brings to life Pizarnik’s poetry, adopting the tonality of her voice. Then towards the end the only audio recording of Alejandra’s actual voice is heard. I was moved to tears, and since then every time I read a poem, my inner voice now has adapted her tonality, her grave emphasis to each word, asking me to dig a little deeper.

As I was watching this film I was eating a mandarin, and now every time I eat a mandarin or smell citrus I will always remember Alejandra. I love when scents or food get associated with something I end up loving. It makes me feel so connected to everything in a very beautiful, romantic way.

If you’re curious and want to be inspired also, here’s the movie in its entirety with English subtitles, and let me know what Alejandra Pizarnik has stirred within you.

(trigger warning for mentions of suicide and suicide)

Full diary entry:

Domingo 24 de Noviembre de 1957

Desalentada por mi poesia. Abortos nada mas. Ahora se que cada poema debe ser causada por un absoluto escandalo en la sangre. No se puede escribir con la imaginacion sola o con el intelecto solo; es menestar que el sexo y la infancia y el corazon y los grandes miedos y las ideas y la sed y de nuevo el miedo trabajen al unisono mientras yo me inclino hacia la hoja, mientras yo me despeño en el papel e intento nombrar y nombrarme.

Alejandra Pizarnik, Diarios.

My translation:

Sunday November 24, 1957

Discouraged by my poetry. Abortions only. Now I know every poem is caused by an absolute scandal in the blood. You can’t write with only the imagination or only with intellect; its necessary that the sex and the childhood, and the heart and the great fears and the ideas and the thirst and again the fear work in unison while I bow towards the sheet, while I collapse in the paper and attempt to name and to name myself.

Alejandra Pizarnik, Diarios.

The Book of Hours

I came across Rainer Maria Rilke in the year 2014. I would read anecdotes and quotes of his, and then I stumbled upon, “Go to the Limits of Your Longing”, a piece of poetry extracted from The Book of Hours: Prayers to a Lowly God. Everyone who seems enamored with this poem tends to interpret it differently. When I first read the poem, it stayed with me immediately after reading it, the lines floating across my mind, my own voice echoing in my ears. The sheer beauty of what Rilke was trying to capture, in the midst of unraveling it through the voice of a monk, captivated me. It’s my north star, whenever I don’t know what to do when it comes to poetry I turn to Rilke’s The Book of Hours, and it allows me to re-calibrate my spirit.

There’s the circulated translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Borrows, but my favorite translation is from the original German by Annemarie S. Kidder. Translating poetry is an art-form in and of itself. To capture what a poet does in their native language is trying to route the rhythm of their being. Poetry is the rhythm of our spirit plucked through the waves of emotions we feel. Seeing the original German side by side with the translation, I feel more at ease as I pronounce the words in it’s original capture. You cannot read this poem on its own, Rilke demands you to read The Book of Hours in its entirety in order for you to understand the beauty you see in, “Go to the Limits of Your Longing”. As Kidder says in the introduction, “For Rilke, the duty of the artist is to travel the austere journey of self-discovery. He compares this journey to life in a religious order, whereby the artist practices releasing all trifling and temporary things as by placing them outside the door, purging his or herself of them…” Because for Rilke this allows us to come to terms with solitude and solitude allows us to find the space we need to expand and create honestly.

Whatever your impressions of God are, as someone who creates, this need to figure out the self in order to express what needs to be extracted from the soul and heart, you have to understand the surrender to something greater than the self. You can argue of the ability of the human to accomplish so much, but at the end of our life we have to bow at and come to terms with our mortality and the edge of our journey. But while we are alive, the borders of our lives extend to the greatness of the divine. Trying to reconcile the both enriches our understanding of ourselves. We try to explain everything, gathering facts and figures but still we fall short to explain those things that can’t be held within numbers. I love The Book of Hours because it is a journey of questioning, of trying to understand this god, and ultimately trying to understand ourselves in front of such a phenomena.

Rumi’s Little Book of Life

I have made this little book into an oracle of sorts. If I feel lost or a sadness has come to visit me a while and I no longer have the patience to host this visitor, I take the little book, close my eyes and flip to a page, and there will be my antidote, the elixir to help me on my way.

Rumi will always move me, even if some days I feel like a statue. Reading even a couple of lines softens me and reminds me of my humanity. He always feel like a hand on my shoulder letting me know to always look for the Divine. And the Divine is the confirmation that our soul is light and will lead us in the right direction, to love.

Love is an attribute of God wanting nothing
repentance is an attribute of man, it is a worm
to Love’s dragon, absurd in God’s presence.
Love for anything but Him is unreal
for that which is not Him is a gilded object
shining outside yet empty inside,
light and golden on the outside yet dark within.
The moment divine light disappears
darkness is revealed and unreal love
is extinguished like a candle,
the body is discarded and beauty returns to its source.
The moonlight goes back to the moon
and its reflection disappears from the black wall.
Divine love is the sun of perfection
the Divine Word is its Light
and the creatures are its shadow.

From, “Part Two: Garden of the Heart”.
Rumi’s Little Book of Life. Translated By: Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin.

Poem XX

Adrienne Rich’s Twenty-One Love Poems are something to behold. Poem XX is the one that moved me, the one that shed a light on something within me I needed to understand, about what the soul is, what the soul is made of.

“That conversation we were always on the edge of having, runs on in my head”, what is this conversation? The internal monologue we have, that inner voice that gathers our intuition and hands it to us. I then read it over and over sharpening my understanding of the soul. Is it a mirror, reflecting the vulnerabilities of ourselves we hide? Not necessarily. We are so prone to continue this life ignoring ourselves for the sake of having a life people think is worth living. There comes a time though, a small moment, where we see ourselves, and the neglect that has caused our grief, “…drowning in secrets, fear wound round her throat”. This grief we try to set aside, throw whatever we can at it, but it’s still determined to creep up when we believe to have defeated it. Our soul is not a mirror, but it will show us what we have been neglecting, how we have been hurting. And then, the sudden realization that we can indeed have a hand at shaping our soul, to have a hand at expanding and growing by nourishing it, to realize it is ours, it is mine, “and soon I shall know I was talking to my own soul”.

This was my interpretation of it and sometimes I wonder if I’m right or wrong. But then again, even though the writer had a certain intention with it, how it is received is something entirely different. I like to think of poetry and other art forms like a road sign, something that highlights what you’ve been mulling over and over again in the palm of your hands, and at times medicine, an elixir that brings the understanding you need in order to continue on.

And now I ask, what has moved you on this Monday, or lately?

Poem XX from Twenty-One Love Poems in, The Dream of a Common Language by: Adrienne Rich