We are on a beach in Vik. Vik is in Iceland, and the beach is a black beach, and we are under gray skies. The kind of timeless skies of a permanent dusk. Because it is November, and this is Iceland. The white gulls wheel against the wet cliffs. This is where they roost.
The black beach is volcanic. Presumably. I mean what I know is that there is a lot of volcanic activity in Iceland, because I have felt the warm water that comes from under the earth. The beach is stones, like little pebbles. It is not sandy beach, in Vik. The stone pebbles are smooth.
The thing about the pebbles though, like what is remarkable about these pebbles is not only the fact that ninety-nine out of a hundred of them are jet black, but what is remarkable about these little black presumably volcanic stones is how the are arranged in rows.
Not like lines, but like strata. The black stones are arranged in a certain way for reasons I assume a hydrologist could explain, something to do with the balance of variables, mass and velocity, like turbidity stuff. You know, like fluid dynamics. Not simple stuff but explainable stuff, by someone, at least.
But you need to know none of this to know that the black stones are arranged in such a way, in strata-lines on the beach in Vik, such that each strata is composed of stones of a similar size. Across the whole beach, maybe volcanic but definitely black rocks in a remarkable composition.
I don’t know why it is remarkable, but it is something about order I think. Order, as in the opposite of entropy. And it is the effect of a non-organic process—as in waves, of water. Like how a crystal grows, or a snowflake. That kind of order, so too with these rocks. I wonder if it is always like this in Vik, but my friends are laughing and don’t seem to notice.
In every human being there is an irreducible strength. There is a stability that cannot be shook, a foundation so sound that no force can uproot it simply because this is impossible — it is not a question of magnitude for the foundation is not set upon rock but is set upon itself. It is pure, self contained, self sufficient: irreducible.
In every human being there is such strength.
To abide at this center, in this center, is to abide in the strength of god. Or, at least, this is what I wonder. I do not propose to claim that this is god, but I wonder at least whether this is the place in which we find god, where we connect, are bathed in glory and grace. Ideally.
Already though in so speaking I lose the moment. Of which it cannot be spoken, for every word and every thought is a movement toward and this point is purely receptive. It receives the world in its purity and it receives even one’s own thoughts, as part of this world.
Is this perhaps the inchoate idea embodied in that line from “A Story for Our Time,” which reads: “in how much vain is beauty proclaimed, insofar as it aims to appropriate” — ? For is not all thought appropriative in the way in which it fits itself to a situation? This is how it is, the thought says, and tries to articulate the moment; it tries to condition the moment; it tries to claim the moment. But its efforts are, to be sure, in vain.
For beauty is untouchable. Untouchable, it is unrelated. Unrelated, it is meaningless.
But what is little understood is that it has much less to do with the content or quality of those thoughts then most people believe, but rather, with their direction. We sit at the center point while we let our thoughts run wild, as it were, over the surface of the world, with all their haste, caprice, and passion . . . there they go.
And so this center point must be separate. Separate, because it cannot participate. It is not one among any series of relationships but always and ever only the return. All things return to it but it does not lead anywhere and only thus is it so stable. It is infinite patience. Infinite calm. Infinite peace. Something like waking death — ?
Yet that is beyond knowing. Perhaps it is an articulation of an answer to the question posed at the end of “Lonely One,” in which it is asked: “Oh christ, you who refused the title / and least innocent of all / who is that third beside you?” Although I myself am unclear as to exactly what these words mean, this was in a way satisfying to me. For I didn’t want to clearly articulate the problem, for a clear articulation would presuppose an answer, only, an answer which had not been arrived at, was lacking only because of contingencies and limitations.
No: it really is a question. Who is that third one? Beside Christ. Surely, don’t ask me.
This center point cannot be arrived at, but only be returned to. it is only a backwards movement, and there is no arriving. It retreats from every situation. It receives every thought but only in secret. Just so long as that thought doesn’t turn around but rather slows down, still believing in itself, curls up and nestles at your foot . . . unaware, and still believing.
At this center point it is supposed one may find god: epistemically, indistinct from infinite peace. Backwards moving always, only moving backwards maybe this peace is made possible. We have found a way to forgive the invariable trespass that is living itself — consciousness and knowledge of self. And it involves neither reconciliation nor resolution.
Every thought presses forward. Every thought presses forward.
Walla Walla, WA
No no, my darling,
Today I am that little star
Twinkling low above the horizon
In the Eastern twilight.
Do you see me now?
I'm the one wearing jeans.
Tomorrow I am a memory
Whispering softly in your ear
At times unexpected.
Can you hear me now?
I'm the one making jokes.