In Safe and Sound,
I write as the crow flies—ashore, on the hard. Something’s happened, my friend. I’m aground, at liberty, and I think you must know. You’re on a run, of course, and a leg from the vanishing angle. There’s nothing so much to say, after all. A sliding pond across the pond, to think of it! And so, I write to you, the manifest all theirs.
I was leadsman and three sheets to the wind after a jump. The shifting tides felt like wild gleams, and yelling, “La mal du siècle est le fin de siècle!”
The quiet quite still and, the ocean conceiving itself a pond, so said staid:
“At times, there arrives a silence of such definitive conviction, only breathlessness awaits in reply. Before a heavy void, abrupt in infinitesimal place, broad-bosomed earth spawns light, deities, and creatures. And yet void stands, eerily genial in a forbidding concealedness it abides, exact—heavy-handed with the awesome settling of null. There are, of course, those remnants of Iapetus’ progeny: a thoughtful, doomed unconcealedness of the world.”
There were dripping sounds at this, I remember, and the wet of tell-tale and the atmosphere. Some of us had silently smoked, like xylological fumes. We were trees, my friend, and the pond was… always water and wet. The drink. Something was happening.
“The world is everything that is the case.”
And, said so, that pond in the middle of the forest talked with the batch of banked reeds about how little our Sol’s rays were involved in its ecosystem. The whole forest listened quietly, and over the following seasons many limbs slowly spread above the pond, until it sighed its happy content of a cool summer to the reeds. As autumn set, the brisk air began ossifying all these ponderous bodies, crisping icy plates on its blooming surface which melted each morning, inviting fauna and flora to sink themselves with stark refreshment.
Appreciating such communal spirit, the pond rippled a quiet return to the forest and limbs.
Later, in a womb of the icing winter, the pond lazily sludged along its floor shipping nutrient muds and clays below its breeding, frozen husk. Snuggled with the earth beneath, it glowed its reverent anticipation of the coming spring thaw. Then, it glimmered, it would banter its banks and banked reeds with freshwater biota and loudly call in laughter to the limbs just above, swinging:
“A no-sided, 4-sided figure is unfathomable—even confusingly so—to our so natural bodies, but what about that rule entails that there, in fact, is or is not a round square object, somewhere? All objects are possible objects?”
Like at some Jack a Jonah rippling the state, we’d listened poised—frozen by such cold.
“In such a proposition—and eo ipso statement, etc., etc.—is it not that its subject noun’s adjective is epistemically dissimilar, categorically, from the predicate noun’s adjective, such that render the proposition’s truth ambiguous without some formality of warrant?”
The arc of visibility the dead wake of a question. It was a wonder indeed, my friend. You would’ve imagined it admirable, as it were.
“Indeed, O Limbs, when contemplating this, prodigious, I think to remember ‘All’ as adjective, and the phrase ‘objects are possible objects’ metaphysical triviality—for, as we all well know, the convention of beginning such cosmic inferences with ‘All’ is merely convention only, useful in determining the universal from the particular formally, carrying no ontological information to the semantic table that isn’t there with the noun—and, in point of fact, serving, in this most serious of cases, that of our sea trial, to build common cloud over the way of inference. An ox-eye, O Limbs. Removing the adjective—using, instead, ‘Objects are possible objects’—might help the clear: to suggest the proposition ‘true’ is to want of warrant for why possibility is universality here. Would not there only then be unity?”
The doldrums becalmed, my friend! The forest spelled. I was forgotten, for the moment, I think.
“That we can’t conceive the experience of a round, square object has, at best, obscure bearing on the existence of such objects in such sense as said.”
Silence, some thought, hearing—already ready to stove in. Scud and iron wind. Sailors, you know.
“Though, such talk is, yes, suspect. As it should be, experience being what it is as the origin of this digression.”
The pond let lit by losing the forest among these trees, and the scat of conversants. All the talk of those aboard, that time, I remember, that cat and the devil to pay.
I won’t ask about the weather of being still at sea, my friend. There’s enough play to run with such paws.
“The map is make-able but never at all necessarily made,” rustled the limbs, “there’s just the effort of trying, ever unable to deduce whether what’s got is right, all, or some. Knowledge doesn’t exist outside knowing minds but its content is everything.”
I think here the pilot coughed, if memory serves. I mean, I’m not sure if any else of us heard, it is.
“It’s that, we understand or misunderstand the world, and the world is. For us, what the world is, what it will be, what it was, and what it can and can’t be, are common features of metaphysics, sought-for but unreached in the concepts of minds trying—some nihilism perhaps excluded. For the world, what it is, what it will be, what it was, and what it can and can’t be are logical categories which denote everything, from the geology of obsidian to this.”
It became a glacial wood soon to be warmed by the heat of summer, and all the many rays of bright shine that’s growth and substance. The master at arms with no room to swing a cat, I guess.
And so, at this, like some carpenter the pond replied in allegory, “The clear of an annulled sky.”
“‘I’ll participate in what you believe if you give me the attention’, came tumbling over the pearls and the bloodied beaver, Limbs.”
The limbs listened as a brush is swept, the forest petrified—fossilized fuels bearing the point, as it were. I remember it said it looked like a mirror. Something about… some hellenic and theophanic rope and yarn, I think. The pond had begun to speak of being a body of water.
“Jackal surveys the land,” the pond had sounded, “edifying Paintings’ touched and embalming the ideal. ‘Say that again?’ With concussion, Lettuce extrapolates. Those binary cartographers imbibe hilarity—albeit, Jackal’s cross and preempts her own ostensible fury by way of a barking cough.”
“Lettuce in chagrin—perplexed.”
Groves, it was by then. I could’ve heard such story, myself—stories like storied buildings.
I think of the fact that, it’s here I find myself found writing letters to you, my friend. Nothing short for lamplight, however much I should have to say, in the end. I’ve even written poems, but that of late and dire.
The pond kept up swinging the lamp like lead.
“All her pink, translucent schemata want of reality—of ossification. Painting mediates: what better than to supplant a foe by fouling foliage? The land fallow, Jackal honors the entreatment—one’s employer reigns this solar day. ‘Painting,’ Jackal claims, ‘we’re apt to mark off the upper ridge for agriculture, the mountain for The Captain’s roost, and the shoals for a defense buttress, leaving the basin for folks.’ Parched, the ink dries and the anxiety of the panorama sets with the star entombing the now elucidated police in time.”
At this, some of the limbs laughed and, in the way, taunted: “Jackal sighs at Lettuce’s prone attack, and revives facility?”
The pond waved isomorphic.
“Jackal spoke: ‘Lettuce… my beliefs are of liquid. I attend objects only, and them with a definite distance.’ Lettuce would gasp. ‘And, Lettuce, I’m a cartographer. Too narrow for your width.’ A fountain, Lettuce pontificates medium, naturalizing chaos. That the Jackal stares, cessation swiftly returning to Painting’s palette the bounty of a nearly aerial view of what—if for Painting only—is ideally incommensurable with identity. So much tranquil settling, as obviating Lettuce’s receding futility and path traversing below.”
“To Painting Jackal inscribes, ‘I am bulimic.’ A laugh, then jest in rebuke, ‘You are?’ They leave the sight.”
The limbs were silent still, having chanted the reflection that: “The beginning of the end is the end of the beginning. To begin the reason is the reason to begin the reason to have begun. The end of the beginning is the beginning of the end. The reason to begin is to begin the reason to have begun.”
I would’ve said something, then, my friend. I write you now, because that wasn’t what happened. The pond took what was a spell to mull and sludge, and was soon quite on, again, about it all.
“It’s that there’s a difference between. An oil portrait by Villers comes to mind.”
Portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes, 1801
“An artist is painted by the painter drawing the painter—looking out at us, studying studying while they work. They paint the artist as drawing within a room, face away from a large window to their left. Through that window, we see the view out into painted open air, and, in the near distance, a painted couple walks close together alongside a painted building separated from that within which we see the artists sit, each working at their craft.”
At this submerged and aesthetic mise en abyme, even I was knocked down, my friend. It was as if liminality were sublimity.
“Villers depicts the artist as turned away from the couple without, from that life-style and choice to be one in a relationship, one outside, there walking and heavily clothed, as having chosen to remain within, at methodic vocation and a sole focus on us—the viewer, the painted. The subject.”
The pond pondered paint in prodigious profundity—paying, by and large by the board. Pelagic, at last it remarked:
“Kierkegaard was polite as ever to the King when at court, yet his journals characterize Christian VIII in language beneath a private subject of an enlightened sovereign! Logic leads, and I heckle and foray riotous! Nobody ever understands him, anyway, you know! The works!”
The limbs, like the Dormouse at tea and, perhaps, Aristotle, were quite asleep. As slumbering arms, indeed, there among the wood and water—the brightwork and deadwood of boatwrights. I’d said nothing—snagged and foul.
I write this all, my friend, because Heraclitus once said aloud that, that war and strife are the facts of life—that to think even of something like a Pax Romana is still yet that lit lamp of the sea state.
We’re at war, my friend. Extremis. This world of war. Sailing wind-over-tide, line astern without letter of marque. A rogue wave.
Be vigilant. Sail.
Your prize, In all regard,
And for the art of love and colors,
Fair winds and following seas,