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Notebook (Scapoli 2018, Grey)

Home is a place of exploration

Christ. At each new sight did he feel a corresponding corner lit within, a correspondence.

Of the laws governing the many bodies into a single body - which assumes an intelligence that transcends.

Maker of mud, from maths manifest
with each years’ season patterns overlaid awry
wound about you as a wheel

If to be material = to be real, then the incarnation would not be a mercy but an evolution/birth.

Birth of the infinite into the finite; of the fractal & complex into the straight.

Up star axons
Dark unreachable crown of horizons

Why are we given space and time to learn presence?

Learn presence by facing the mountain and not climbing it.

Standing face to face with another and not desiring their view.

Freefal into my own gravity.

Dante, Odysseus, all travellers are compelled by a vision of a rest somewhere else, their energy, frenetic, shot outward toward X

If rest is not here, it must be there.

Thus all questing. Thus hope for more.

Toward cities where someone has been present, patiently laying stones.

“I WANT to be free from DESIRE” is hilarious, but pretty much reflects my spiritual state.

The desire for a good harvest. The desire for a new iPhone. The desire of olive leaves tugging their branches toward sunlight.

Against the pull of desire, conquest, nostalghia, the incarnation draws us to matter at hand, to presence.

Only when I was dead
did I realize I was not
in a movie,
or writing a poem.

“For us, wellbeing has reference to something other than ourselves.”

  • Aristotle, Eudamion Ethics

“He who is unable to live in society, or has no need… must either be a beast or a god.” - Arist.

Nietszche’s idea that “every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force… and to thrust back all that resists its extension” does not actually describe the human organism: it describes a cancer. The modern idea of the Individual Self is a cancer - it ends in entropy and loneliness.

Writing, sketching, etc. making is both a reaching out and gathering: a love of else and self.

An enlarging of the world, swollen with reflection, with shared attention.


In Plato’s Symposium (cf. Myth of Aristophanes), people need the “other half” (symbolon) to be complete. He mean this both sexually and geometrically, but how many fractal edges do each of us have in our minds, bodies, days.

Freckle to freckle, scar to scar, sentence to finished sentence (a question)

The urge to explore the world is also the urge to contain it, in miniature, so that others by knowing me will have gained a world.

// The urge to know You is to contain You so that by knowing me you will know yourself.

Purgatorio 19.118-124

In Inferno, each punishment is a mirror of the sin.

In Purgatorio it is the same, but we encounter the real problem of how sin, rebounded, can break the mirror and lead beyond -

it is here that it is clear that sin is not the opposite of virtue but a twisting, so that when Justice holds the eyes of greed “Here on the Earth below”, it is not an evil.

We must learn to look into the Earth, through sin and back to the source it twists.

I feel I am a dying species, looking out on a lost pocket of the world:

the radiating stone streets, the crumbling ornaments

it came to stay, it came to pass

Caserta Gardens

Even after my discussion with the kids about control of nature and centralized power, and with their hearts ardent for the poor, the children couldn’t help but fall in love with Reggia Caserta. It is a monument to what people can make: the miles-long garden promenade and fountains, the rooms gilded, large enough to hold our entire home.

Their eyes were filled with what was possible (E: “It would take my whole life.”), because the place is so clearly made.

The older man’s ‘however’ which I enjoin to this sense of wonder is secondary, a morality tale which can only be told after the construction of the thing.

Not a church, not a gesture outward of worship, but an inward-focused monument to control, to modulated power over people and materials. SO stunning it is difficult to wrench one’s eyes away toward the tenements, the city-crammed hills.

The angles radiate, rebound, as thoughts within a mind, each mind we encounter traipsing through cragged alleys

is such a palace, has made such a home,

each of us is a gardener, rooting out invasive species, tending the geometry we have made.

Yet walls are partial. Spores blow in, ornamental moss. Time whittles the starkest angles.

Isotherms. All borders cradle, alienate.

If the motions of religion (cf. Harrison) are:

  • gather good
  • dispel bad

thankfulness is a curious motion. Thankfulness is a response to the cosmos from the barest core of being. Deeper than ’living’ with its regulation of in/out, good/bad, etc.

Left and right hand of ICXC

“I must decrease, that he may increase” - John “Let it be unto me” - Theotokos

On not seeing the relics of St. Bartholomew in Benevento

Just here, the bulge in the alley wall, graffiti and trash.

For all of POMO’s juxtaposition of high/low, the cell continues to barricade virus

The holes in bread. Like tissue, flesh, yet nothing! Substantially insubstantial.

Air bubbles crept into this rock so we could eat it!

Somewhere along the line I realize
that I may be in heaven
and never know
since I never understood
how to be anywhere.

Trees: synapses shocked up

Birches: veins of bone

Needless to say that ideas fat-finger reality

but why do we seek, again and again, this correspondence

(beyond mere perception)

Patterns, coming and going. Some distillation.

River water fastens molecules
to flowering ice awhile

Change not a betrayal, but a trait, of form.

Recall: things exist beyond my reckoning,
as the dark tree-stalk sifts up
(through white noise, winter windshield),
has roots stretching back into spring.

As blind snow itself is made of springtime. Of clear waters.

Earliest religion/magic comes from the spear, from transcending distance.

Each time we threw the spear we wounded ourselves as well.

Opened up holes, distances that we can never, would never, untangle –
taste of the sun in oily orangeskins

It is possible to reside in a house but not to live there.

It is possible to be in heaven but not to know it.

It is possible that heaven is a way of not being here. (a spear)

The thing came from afar, trailing strands, wiht one end still afar.

As each thing has a side in shadow.

Mystery compels us, which is to say that we both love and fear our blindness.

Our partial-ness,
our being bound to death.

It is death that rests in each blindspot,
our halfness,
near as a half-remembered thought.

There is no here that is not a there.
We live in one another’s beyond.
Distances bound up in
each cupped handful of water (read the report!)

The snow crossed with tracks.

There is no “Gospel of the Molecular Description of the Material Events of IC + XC”

Personhood is tangled up with truth.

“Science is personal” - M. Polanyi

Trentmunn (“Empire of Things”) makes the case that the opening of supermarkets was felt as liberating b/c people did not have to feel judged by e.g. the local butcher, who knew them. They could be anonymous - equating anonymity with freedom. Certainly, butchers could have had more grace in these circumstances, but anonymity removes the imperative and the circumstances for us to practice grace/forgiveness. We now live in a world (virtual at least), with pervasive anonymity, & we are less & less gracious.

The erosion of authority is an erosion of trust.

“creeds have become all but insignificant… not living expressions… but ancient barriers… the whole centre of gravity has in fact shifted from authority to experience.” - Harrison, Epilegomena…

Creeds are barriers because they are brittle, contra experience.

Yet experience requires form, grows latticed upon the scaffolding of the world it encounters:
a world of teachers, of stone paths, of brands and forms.

Winter piazza, yellow and shadow.

Silver olive petals gusting up.

The air is thick with distances and thus no longer distant.

How, in Zeno’s paradox, one can never get anywhere but closer.

A leaf falls
through leaves

rasping once, again, once

(footfalls on the branches)

There is no away but toward.

No greeting other than the unwound tail of a departure. No novelties but hand-me-downs.

Blown into vistas by the tradewinds.

Being solitary is a kind of death-within-life, a prefiguring of death. Silence, which is a necessity for living with others to occur (“Unless it die…”)

In-breath and out-breath.

But there is no true being alone. Absolute zero alone.

I am accompanied by light and the trees’ silver praise and the dense dark – loneliness is an illusion, like the many which surround me.

There is only the commerce with people and stones and air and other beings. I am one.


Humorous world

Long stalk bent by an invisible finger and sprung back –

Silly I think the world needs hands and an idea of time to lave the shade-shaped
frost on the far sides of rocks.

Since it takes 8 minutes for sunlight to reach us, the sun has already risen over the wall of hills when I first glimpse it.

It threw itself toward me even before I arrived.

windy carapace
green felt melody


slanted plains shafts and spines

shattered horizons, mid revolution

verdure ruck fold mist-tangled

brittle spindle

folded shadow crumpled

Many of the protective walls of Pompeii
are made of volcanic rocks.

“The heavenly wielder of the keys,
who throws open the gates of heaven.”

St. Peter (cf. Aldhelm, Carmina Ecclesiastica) //
Janus (cf. Ovid, Fasti)

2 keys, 2 faces, 2 directions

In Rome, I encounter IC+XC made tangible

  • in the bones of hands that touched him, in the steps he walked up -
    but always through the institution of the Church (its buildings, janitors, scholars, etc.)

Of course we only know history, what has happened, through the institutions which were a result of that ‘happening’.

Institutions/traditions abide and carry through time

but how is, and is, it possible to sift back through the accreted stories to the Divine Word?

MONUMENT–and edifice large and clear enough that time’s storm of static cannot erode it.


CITY–with corners where people live, that people maintain, prone to local variations but alive

St. Thomas is so often equated with the skeptic, the scientist… why not the lover?

this rift, between the CITY & the MOUNTAINTOP has always been impassable for me.

Not the voice saying “Come and find my meaning”, but “Come and play with me in the fields of meaning”

They fraudulently protected themselves for the sake of enjoying the light of this brief life

  • Augustine, Civ. Dei Ch. 1

He who has no tomb has the sky for a vault.

  • Lucan, Pharsalia vii. 819

The body is… a apart of man’s very nature. - Augustine, CD, ch. 13

So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them. For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a horrible stench & ointment emits a fragrant odor. - Aug, CD, Ch. 8

The poor-spirited fear which prompts us to choose rather to live long in fear of so many deaths, than to die once… - Aug, CD, Ch. 11

With a focus on (and metrics for) “Views”, “Return visits”, etc., marketers and start-ups understand the primacy of a resource which I too often throw away: ATTENTION

I give attention to junk mail, to gossip, to memes – that is to say, I let those things steal my attention, rather than purposefully using it.

The power of attention is that it lays one stone on another: makes homes, cultures, cities.

Attention is to direct the energy of one’s intelligence (always entwined with ones Love) on the world outside of oneself.

When I attend to the natural world in this way, it rewards me with beauty, breath, life–slow growth.

We are nourished by reality because it is substantial. When we attend to ourselves by feeding our split-second hungers, or propping up our superficial advert identities, we come away hungry–but we keep going back because that’s what we’re fed.

For all the accomplishments, predictions, inventions of science - by itself, it still leaves the world hollow if. “we murder to dissect”

The fact becomes amputated from the living reality

This is // to the medieval view of sin, as a veil which keeps us from reality

Peregrination {our home is afar & {our hope is @ our feet

How I hold to your body Like a raft, a coffin sized ARK.

Now there is nothing but away

Each moment dissipates As soon as breath inflates the lungs, As color flourishes (fractures in) the eye, It inhabits that desiccated world of distance & desire

Of flowers locked in birds or books In hope or memory ……………… no… a presence that overflows the present, That spills into past & future

cf . Agirrezabal, “ Machine learning for metrical analysis” where the author states that, In poetry, precision of meaning/denotation is often ‘sacrificed’ for sonic, rhythmic considerations.

All words have an apophatic distance from what they refer to Thus complete accuracy is impossible & in fact the more accurate a language is (e.g. in engineering specs.) The less ‘meaningful’ people find it.

In writing anything that has meaning (ie. that resounds within the person), precision cannot be the sole consideration.

Precision is akin to justice, ‘lex talionis’ (weighing each work in the balance) – Yet words are inadequate to capture the actual world (‘chair’, ‘leaves’, etc), As they are to capture theological truths (‘God”, etc.)

So, for any understanding, for any dialogue, there must be trust, grace And for us to extend grace we must feel safe, feel seen

At the basis of all communication, All poetry, Is love, the union of persons.

(thus no pattern recognition or machine-generated stanzas will ever be sufficient)

If recognition was only possible when we were recognized, diminishing returns would lead us all to be isolated.

In order for me to listen (to enter communion) I must feel that You see me We are going somewhere

Communication (requires) → trust→ recognition→ … (what supports /nourishes our ability to recognize , to see another person…) Either mutual recognition → recognition Or some external source → greater love, ie. God, or reservoir from others.

Compare, for example, two scenarios: Conversaion @ortofrutta in italian where I don’t speak the language Thread regarding political beliefs on FB.

In both cases it is not possible for an exhaustive/exact communication because I lack adequate language, or use a different language (in a different sense in A or B)

However, recipients of my feeble communication can choose to fill in the gaps of my meaning with trust or with suspicion.

Tonight again I sit with my feet on the table Carving off the hard scallop of the soles, Tasting of travel & want

The taste at the boundary Of the small-starred penumbra My perception Is blood, is iron & warm river My blood, & now yours You who reach your hand under My sky & beckon

These clouds

The Meditteranean hoisting Itself up Wave by wave In mist to travel Across the mountains

Overheard: “Everything is going to change the world”

The way light plays in the eye It is hard to see: Is the valley folding Or unfolding?

Carving lungfulls of air Out of the soft stone A hammer at a time (how much effort it is to chisel out space for a single breath)

Whose names are writ on shifting sounds Systems of air.

For days made of decades Seconds stitches w/ centuries Men have been piling up stones Into houses, spires

Rubbing objects against other objects, Making marks

Their mastery is lost & their mistakes are lost In an obscure avg. (shuffling dust)

Pressing with fingers, with shells & The jaws of beasts - Afternoons spent pressing intricate Patterns into clay.

Protective glass crazing, Eroding slowly around The ancient urns

Should one grudge the painter his Attention to each stroke Describing the garments curves & bunches, the details Which would disappear quick As the model stood? Grudge me these lines And if we say we draw an Idea (which is a pattern matter follows), Is it any less evanescent?

Carved stones out of the Space of their own hunger Out of a desire to exist

?{ take names of famous People & rearrange to Make a poem about Inaccessible – death}

Holding objects to the light Such as themselves…

We make straight lines Because what is round reminds Us we erode, prefigures death

To plant some thought Some fragrant fragment In your memory (remember me) But if it tastes of me, it will Not be true, will pull you back gravid earthward To stone

As if they took A chisel to write Kept carving until A cavern into a cathedral

We see death around us & we want to bury Ourselves in others Before they bury us In dirt.

It pours & pours There is no time to lose Only to bathe in

If birds have wings there has to be another place If birds have wings the has to be Somewhere else If birds fly the air holds us & us Please please please

They dreamed of people

Sprouting wings pouring from their pores & Then of angels Then of heaven

to rewind a drop of rain perfectly to reduce oneself into

its shuddering journey back into the cloud

“A man cannot go back into his mothers womb” - Nicodemus

How you would cup the mind in your hands

If one could rewind just one raindrop reduce me perfectly into a shuddering journey back to mist

There are estimates for how much space would be needed to fit all of humanity, shoulder to shoulder.

I may have found the perfect place, in Basilicata’s rainswept plains. Between the wind turbines, the mouldering villas. We could just lie down there, let the Spring taste our toil.

Sheep, with their blonde, scummy shocks of wool. Like hairshirts.

After conversation with Caleb

If we say that ‘art wounds’ and ’nature heals’, a question worth asking is ‘wounds what?’ or ‘heals what?’ If we say that nature heals the psyche/soul, we should also acknowledge that in many cases it maims, kills, digests. If we respond that Nature is an unbroken fabric and that Death is its needle, then it is barely worth saying anything about either Art or Nature and we should merely let the moss grow over our lips.

The distinction of art vs. nature also assumes that humans sit outside of one or both of these. That we are ourselves somehow ’not nature’ and that our art is categorically different than the birds-of-paradise who gather colorful bric-a-brac into mosaics for their nuptial nests. It also assumes that we are not somehow the unfolding tapestry of an inscrutable Creator. After all, perhaps the anguish, toil and joy of our life’s work is not ore or less than the flourish at the tip of a single letter in a calligrapher’s book.

If by ‘art’ we mean more broadly ‘artifice’ (i.e. anything made), then there are fights to pick with manufacturing, tech, and other making which seeks to consolidate power and resources more than to communicate. In these cases, I would argue that the ‘wound’ is not from the artifice but from the ego. And not merely that there IS an ego at all (i.e. a center of a self), but that the ratio of one ego to others becomes drastically lopsided, e.g. in cases where an ecosystem is bankrupted to pad a few execs’ bank accounts, or where the basest emotions of a population are stoked to increase user engagement of social media.

Certainly there are artists who have had outsized egos (many), but htrowing away art with the bathwater isn’t fitting. In fact, I’d say that a narcissist artist who merely gestures toward their own feelings and who does not nourish something equally great in a listener, is hardly a good artist at all– precisely because they are not tapping into the healing power of (what you are perhaps calling) nature.

Of course I think that there are many times Art can be healing and not rely on the ‘Lyric I’ or a Romantic version of the Self at all. I think of landscape painters and haiku writers, whose selves bow to the patterns of nature and/or language – which is to say, of their materials.

Palimpsest: Russians setting up icons in a Baroque Roman church built upon an Egyptian temple.

the walls may be different
the dome, the pillars,
but the only ground
is contingency

(thus any building “on top” can only last if it is an uncovering–of some more fundamental arms we rest in–something True)

Lamentations Service at Chiesa de S. Stefano diCacco, built over a temple to Isis and Serapis

Building/hallowing a place atop an older temple

A kind of homage, a fulfillment
an acknowledgement that we are
all contingent, all leaning toward
an empty wall (the stage’s dark front)
hoping to be met there, to be filled.

Each morning the trash picked up,
chalk on the street from yesterday’s drawings,
sun reaching again into the cornices of monuments, friezes.

Shopkeepers scrubbing the stone doorways (enter, enter)

Smoke rising in a column of sun
singing with mournful hope

enough to pull green through stalk
enough to fill a stone with warm

Morning before Pascha, metro into Rome

“I look for the resurrection of the dead”

Pollen sifting up among the ruins.

The supposedly dead not as bureaucracy but companions.

In church, perahps any community, there are all personalities present:
dour, expansive, fastidious, effusive, timid, suspicious, dramatic, joking, anxious…)

All persons.

There will always be a child clattering to act,
a prent following in sheepish terror to quiet them,
an old man staring in routine disapproval,
a priest smiling with amusement, the deacon with hunched lip, bent on rules because they are his only source of beauty and power,
the well-trimmed man for whom perfection is a precipice one walks carefully upon

We are held together by these differences
reactions of one to the other are the flow, the interplay of our internal lives

We think to defeat desire by satiating it, but it is flame.

The only way to defeat desire is to be rid of fear.

The rush of Holy Week toward Pascha–
time rushes as the heart beats–
in desire, in fear, two kindred emotions
racing toward the event
which will extinguish them.

Poem: Newton’s notebooks containing alternative ides a/b gravity

Poem sequence adding to these…

Maxwell talks about his equations as discovering that there is no empty space unfilled by the Creator’s energy.

In my beginning was your face, C.
(No matter that you weren’t born)
like the everlasting land I keep
setting out toward

If we say that language tinges ideas,

it is because thought is dialogic,
is meant in its phrasing among our neurons
to be shared

Even interior thought (cf. Psalms’ “O my Soul”)
is a dialogue & must take the form of an orbit
around 2 focii

THe mental model with which we too typically describe communication, especially in organizations (or any ‘practical’ field of application), rests too exclusively on a mechanistic description (I will not say, “understanding”). We have allowed a simple picture to enter our minds, similar to the elegantly simple diagrams of Claude Shannon when he was working at Bell Labs:

sender -> signal -> receiver

and we have allowed this to enter our thinking as an apt analogy for communication between people, when the correct word (even the one Shannon uses) may be transmission.

In this view, the sender has the Ur-message, treated as true because it is the reference, and the message must arrive at the receipient through a medium.

This view tends to treat the sender as a source of truth, merely because his utterance comes first– because it is the reference for the content which is communicated.

For a certain few, very important messages, this emphasis on meticulously decoding and preserving the intent of a single speaker’s thoughts (through the madcap journey across a gamut of obscuring words, media, etc.) may be worth it. To isolate and observe these with precision, as though the words of a god.

However, in the world of collaboration, of making together, this view of communication can thwart relationships and momentum.

What often happens in communication is that receiver rephrases or voices a sketch of their understanding of the original message, and then revises that sketch based on feedback/confirmation from the source.

This is necessary for communication with any degree of complexity, except for the most basic (e.g. “pick up that ball with your left hand”).

Thus, any situation where >=2 people are making something together (a family, a paper, a chair) requires iterative communication.

(NOTE that at any step in the cycle something is at stake, and can go horribly right or wonderfully wrong… hurt feelings, assumptions, flashes of insight, revisions… Success requires sticking with the person, not with the idea.)

a.k.a. dialogue, which is how we have made meaning since times immemorial. In fact, dialogue is so ingrained in us that when we require unidirectional communication such as an order/command, we understand this to mean that we are being treated as a resource and not as a choosing/thinking PERSON.

(The case of asynchronous, written language is actually the oddball here, whether in the form of novels or e-mail, and retains the hard edges which dialogue seeks to sculpt through iteration. This is one reason why poetry aims at multivalence and fecundity of meaning… and why e-mails seem harsh and require emoji)

THe only place where 1-directional communication seems to work out well is in situations where people might die or be hurt. War, injury, etc. In this case, my need to be understood and seen can take a temporary backseat to my need to exist at all (note that this is only temporary, cf. Tzvetan Todorov, in ‘Life in Common’).

War, it barely needs noting, is an activity devoted primarily to destruction and survival, and is thus a different type of activity than the collaborative building we engage in constructing a home or a product.

Also worth noting that communication in a chain of command requires a common language without wiggle room, cf. Army seating plans. I.e. there is a shared context (war) and a shared jargon built in.

In novel situation, where a new design or analysis is being undertaken, this shared context doesn’t exist unless it is developed from the ground up. This is why lovers have idiosyncratic language and communication, and why introducing a new person to a work project mid-way is difficult and requires starting over in some ways.

In these cases, the language must be re-taught, re-explained, and in the process re-developed because it is so newly minted.

Another thing worth noting about the mechanistic view of communication is that it assumes the speaker does not want to revise his/her original words, and that the act of dialogue and clarification does not yield new hues and colors to the original message which was communicated.

This toppling of the ‘omniscient’ author breathes fresh air into reading/ideas, but seldom makes it into work life because of the frail facade of authority and infallibility that goes along with hierarchical power structure, where ones ‘place’ is naively conferred to connote the value of one’s opinions.

(The things we make are not just the product of a single act and intent, but of multiple touches and intentions from us and those we live among)