Bus Yoga 1

Seated on the bus.

This cruising assemblage of rubber, metal, and wires, holding humans in its belly as it rolls through space, I in turn hold as ‘bus’; it obediently folds its motion, its taking of us from our As to our Bs, transparently inside my grasp of it as ‘bus’. For a moment I see the secret machinery translating the bus’s metal and gears, its controlled explosion of gas and its careful flesh and blood piloting through streets, into the electric linguistic bubble of Bus, neatly resonating within itself all the other sub-bubbles it holds (wheels, gears, line-ups, starting and stopping, get up for the elderly and infirmed, watch for your stop) outside of time, as a neon glow in cognitive space, a phantom of electric attention that could vanish with a firm yank of the cord from the outlet.

In the electric bus bubble, scenery collapses into ‘scenery’, seats into ‘seats’, passengers into ‘passengers’, all filed away within everyone’s private bus. His bus isn’t mine, but he and I include each other, in a hidden pact, on each other’s busses.

Adhering without touching, because inhabiting the very marrow, I persist as a ghost in these machines within machines, wheels within wheels. The bus driver is his own island of turning precision, tracing us through mapped time schedules onto real concrete streets, carrying us to phantom goals within solid walls. And he is my avatar up ahead, manipulating through my remote control, the arcane gears of the electric bus bubble engine, transmogrifying scenery, collapsing space between my A and B.

Bus Yoga 2

 On the bus I have somewhere to go.

We all have somewhere to go, and together on the bus we are on the way, getting there. Also, we are prone to let our eyes fall half or all the way closed, and to drift our heads over to gaze out the window at passing sights, taking those sights in with interested, attracted, or repulsed recognition, or gratefully letting them blur together into the soft trance of in between, of not there yet. We can tune in, but are just as prone to tune out, to let the bus take us.

But isn’t there often a melancholy to it, a hidden sadness? I’m here because I have to be here, have to get to the B from that A, where I would perhaps rather have stayed, or maybe even I’m fleeing an A to arrive at an unsatisfactory B. Perhaps I hear this blurring complexity whispering along the streets, singing its woes into my ears, slipping in between the lines of my I-Pod songs.

I can resist; I can set up counter thoughts, counter arguments, screw up my courage, repaint the grid of my fondest maybe even quite attainable hopes, to crowd out this dull oppressive whispering, which always obeys the traffic signals, respects the boundaries of the infrastructure, has one eye on the watch and the other on the bus schedule, the work schedule, on the unspoken emotional agendas that feel too brittle and fragile and volatile to challenge—they might break, might hit me, might crumble into tears, might ostracize me forever.

But there’s always the drifting trance of the in between. I can just let it take me, let the whispering become an alien rambling monologue, let it merge with the growl of the bus engine, with the traffic sounds, the static chatter. Where am I now?

A and B have melted together, the themes of going from here to there, of ‘he said’ and ‘she said’, of ravenous striving commerce and aching dreams of protesting art, have all merged into a theme-less realm of heavy eyes, through which surreal scenery sends its waves, that break against the subdued chaos of mumbling detached thoughts, swirling together with tendrils of sound, all of it washing through ‘me’… But this is another me, a retreating me, with the dial turned away from jagged rocks of the A-to-B station, finding a welcome undemanding static, a nonthematic purgatory which may not be heaven but at least it’s unhinged from the endless themes, the storylines of traffic lights, NO STOPPING zones, and four-way intersections where you MUST decide which way to go, who goes first, and who has the coolest car.

Can I see this though, bring it clearly in focus, and thereby become the driver sometimes instead of always remain the passenger? Can I take it further, travel with it off the map, pave new roads inside the in between of riding the A-to-B bus?

Perhaps this unconscious escape, this drifting retreat, can become tinted with a new curious attention, a sneaky, gleefully conspiring light.

I could slip into this nonthematic in between on purpose. And also I needn’t be bummed by the murky thematic tangles of A and B; I can cast a neon light on them from within the security, the secret refuge of my drifting middle ground stronghold, my sanctum sanctorum, where I can move back and forth at will: I can conspire to see in between the lines, and just let them drift by as curious creatures, as passing blurring scenery I needn’t ‘recognize’; and also I can reach out with intelligence culled from my new nonthematic spy network, and grab the thematic steering wheel, change the schedule, redraw the maps.

The Infinite Living Room: Two Views of a Secret

Here is a chapter from my novel, The Infinite Living Room. I am currently seeking a publisher for this book

The Infinite Living Room is written in the style of magical realism, deals more directly with themes I have been exploring on this blog in posts like Bus Yoga, and Felt Sense and Nonsense, in the form of a psychological mystery characterized by frequent dips into the waters of dreamtime.

First, as a lead in, here is an idea of what would appear on the back of the book:

Gradually, half with the willingness of a daring explorer, and half with all-too-human terror, Martin Saxon finds his simple life expanding into an infinite living room.

What begins for writer Martin Saxon as a routine trip to give a lecture at a university flowers into a quest of such intensity that it splits open his psyche into bizarre, and by times violently competing approaches to that quest.

These approaches manifest in the form of three fantastical agents, who blur the lines between dream and reality.

Did he hire them, as they claim? If so, why? And why can’t he remember doing so?

These agents take as their debating platform and battleground the dreamscape city of Quantavium, into which Martin finds himself slipping while sleeping, and increasingly, while awake.

Is Martin going mad? Or is he experiencing some vaudevillian form of Zen illumination?

Chapter Eleven

Two Views of a Secret

Martin’s dream journal:

Fred and I were shown into a sort of heaven that didn’t seem right: It was too cutesy and typical, with friendly (heavenly) but disappointingly stereotypical angels and such flying around, in a swirl of pinks and reds. So we turned back to try again. A mysterious woman, a sort of secret agent (J. P. Infinity?), who apparently had led us to the first heaven or dimension, created another doorway for Fred and I to go through.

This time we entered a sort of bus or train terminal with people standing around (broad spaces, high ceilings, lit with bright sunlight coming in through narrow windows and open doors). We left quickly—it was an uncomfortable, threateningly ‘official’ place—and began walking across a field, through the town.

It was an alternate, utopian or dystopian world—It wasn’t clear which. But I saw a clear vision of a city bus going by. On its side, written in big letters, were the words ‘Transit Vace.’ I immediately inferred from this that their language was altered but still similar to mine.

Then at a bus stop we were standing around with a group of people on a muddy, trash-covered curb. Suddenly an environmental policeman pulled up to the curb in a sci-fi van. He assigned particular people to various trash disposal duties. It was illegal to disobey. The chosen people piled up trash and sprayed it with a special super glue that made the piles solid, then they threw all the solidified piles into the policeman’s specially equipped disposal van. I contemplated picking something up voluntarily, but didn’t (I justified this to myself, with dubious conviction, by noting that I wasn’t one of the people chosen by the policeman).

The scene shifted to somewhere else in the same world. There was a student who was being questioned outside his room, in a university residence. The man who questioned him was an agent of the state. The agent drilled him to prove his merit in society. The student listed his academic achievements. It appeared that he was doing exceptionally well  . . . except for his environmental duties. The agent began to recite something taken out of state dogma, but the student cockily finished what the agent was saying for him, listing The Three Things that everyone in society was supposed to uphold, which just happened to be tacked up on the student’s door on a piece of paper (there was a feeling that they were tacked up on every student’s door). They were self-against-self, self-editing, or self-criticizing injunctions, known as The Three Paranoias:

1 The Paranoia of Survival

2 The Paranoia of Social Conformity

3 The Paranoia of Responsibility

Martin read over what he’d written of his dream carefully, keeping mentally in touch with the feelings and certainties he’d felt while dreaming. As he often did, he noticed upon looking back that there had been a reality surrounding the dream which was simply assumed, like the way everyone assumes the complex, meaningful world surrounding their waking identities. And there were vivid emotional nuances that he felt while dreaming, which he couldn’t get down on paper, just like with normal memories.

Martin placed his dream journal beside the bed again. He decided to go back to sleep, since there was nothing pressing he had to do that day.

He drifted into sleep, into sitting at a kitchen table, drinking coffee and looking across at the linear flux-time assassin, Voratio Santini.

Their table was in the middle of a low bridge stretching across a harbour. The grey colours of the scene seemed to shift around them, a blurry, rhythmic movement, like an image reflected in water. But Voratio’s form stayed sharp, the boundaries of his image remaining as dark, thick lines, like a character in a black and white animation.

Voratio took a deep breath through his nostrils, made a sweeping gesture with his hand, and said, with absolute conviction, “Wishful thinking assumes that what you desire is unlikely to occur, whereas making things really happen is accepting the idea that your firm, determined intent will in fact cause that thing to happen, step-by-step. If it doesn’t happen then you are being insincere in your conviction, there are hidden reservations in your psyche, or the intentions of others may be blocking you. It helps to have abundant energy and good concentration. Although the exploration of methods to take advantage of this is up to you, there are traditional ways, long ago worked out, which I highly recommend you avail yourself of.”

“That having been said, it is best that you work with the situation you find yourself in, such that you view it as having naturally arisen out of your individuality and decisions.” Voratio placed his hands palms down upon the table and thrust his face at Martin. An open, but grey sky framed Voratio’s angular features. “You have chosen me to be your representative of systems, of tried-and-true methods that can provide sure success along the path. I strongly suggest that you follow the few basic principles I am presenting to you. It is best that you not ignore the examples of the many who have gone before you.” He began to trace figures on the table with his finger, as if etching these basic principles into its wood. “Look for possible openings without setting your sights on one particular route, because the path of least resistance that would best fulfill your truest intent may be something you could not possibly foresee. It is not for you to plan out, in all of its ineffable details, the scenario of your ultimate fulfillment, as perhaps you already know.” Voratio looked at him searchingly, and maybe somewhat suspiciously.


“So it comes down to not just focusing your attention on particulars, although that is important, but also on the overall intent of a thing, because to obsess over one part, is to neglect the whole.”


“It seems to me that to a degree you are already informed in what I am telling you.” Voratio said, a little pointedly.

“Yes, but it helps to have someone as casually familiar in its actual implementation to explain it, to get a taste of that . . . casual assuredness.”

“Glad,” Voratio said, his face transforming into an enormous grin, “to be of service.”

Martin then saw a flash of movement within the top periphery of his vision. Voratio put his hand out quickly, grin vanishing, to catch his attention, but Martin was already looking up, at J. P. Infinity, who stood balancing on top of a high wooden pole, like the lookout on a sailing ship. Her sturdy, voluptuous form, along with the vitality that made her flesh firm, her glowing cheeks, her breasts, made her like a fruit-bearing tree, the wild hair on her head breathing the sky, the light. She had her hand up over her eyes, as if she were scanning for land, or saluting the horizon. Above her in the sky hung a full moon, shining.

The water surrounding them had become the endless, vast ocean, the unknown, the landscape of the unsaid. It remained hidden, unseen, like the deep ocean below you as you swim on your back, yet it seethed with an awesome, terrifying intelligence, infusing Martin with a secret excitement, an exquisite knowing. It was the genuine promise of mystery which has always yet to unfold, the true vastness of things, forever in between the lines.

She jumped, all in one motion, performing a swan dive, down into the abyss. He could feel her descent in his guts. He wanted to cry out, a victory howl, in celebration of her bravery.

At the last moment, just as the fingertips of her outstretched hands were about to break the surface of the deep, he saw that she had tied a bungee cord to her ankles. She bounced smoothly back up to the top of the pole, then gazed coolly down upon him, eyebrows raised, questioningly.

My most recent (science fiction) book is Gray World: Stealing Fire: https://theinfinitelivingroom.com/2012/04/13/gray-world-11/

Phenomenology of Green Tea Box 2

“Sometimes I feel sad when I’m happy.”

“I know what you mean…”

What is “I know” here?

There are many possibilities as to what I am trying to get across could be, and you are choosing from those possibilities ‘the right one’, like consulting an inner internet, googling your inner resources to find multiple hits that clarify what I’m getting across. But what is the “I know” or the “I see” in ‘that’?

“See that over there?”

“On the red counter?”

“Yes–there, see?”

“Oh, the green box?”

“…Is that what it is?”

“Yes, that’s just an old green tea box.”

“Oh right, now I see.”

But how am I, and how are you, in ‘that’ occasion, coming to an agreement, modulating the shared object of our conversation toward mutual recognition? We agree, but really there are two poles we are holding together in this exchange: the pole of what we are aiming at mutually recognizing (to further our shared communication), and the pole that is in each of our inner spaces of experiencing. Taking first the inner experience, isn’t ‘it’ (the exchange, the aimed at shared recognition), all of it even, within each of our inner spaces of experiencing? Isn’t this shared experience in a certain sense ‘immediate’–‘not mediated by anything’–that is, isn’t it all there immediately, beyond ‘meaning’? The whole occasion, me, you, my and your body, the very processes of trying to get across to you that I’m not sure what that green object is on the red counter, and your pointing out that it is ‘just a green tea box’–all of that, by switching focus a little (or being too tired to focus) is just ‘stuff’, activity in my/your inner space. It is immediately there, outside of being located in time and space, outside of relationship, as stuff that remains out of tune, static waiting to be banished by a careful turn of the dial toward the proper station.

As soon as we, for ourselves, for the exchange between you and I (self and other) zero in on it as composed out there in time and space, brushed with the colours of our shared language paint, then the immediate inner becomes mediated, pulled inside out to splash the world in our shared ways using the world’s own palette, which we however mix and compose with, in the way you and I learned in the same college of art. And yet ‘it’ also, at the same time, never leaves ‘the immediate’ of the inner spaces of experiencing.

Keeping that in mind, as a kind of instrumental focus, a perceptual paintbrush, to gather paint from the everyday artwork for painting new, unframed canvases, is a kind of sober psychedelic, a modulated madness. With the “I know”, I pull the complexity into an agreement for myself and also for you, if I’m getting you to follow and understand the meaning of my pointing finger, like a kind of enigmatic magician’s lens hiding from itself its own sleight of hand.

There is a certain non-verbal muscular act to ‘I know’ that–‘all in one motion’–tends to hide the flexing of perceptual, linguistic, cultural, and aesthetic variables, via the mediation of “It’s just a green tea box”, but which is not actually immediately confined inside that little green box, ‘at the same time’. It is possible to grasp into, to ingrasp, the muscular tissue of that “I know”, that silent flexing of experiential flesh that is actually full of observable nuances, and to condition that tissue at a different gym.

Phenomenology of Green Tea box 1

The green tea box.

Actually from where I’m sitting typing it is a rectangular box sitting on my red counter, with the French side turned toward me. Vert. But green nonetheless . . .

There are coils of green swirling on it, light greens shading into even lighter greens, all a refreshingly verdant foliage of genuine Chinese tea meaning-stuff. But isn’t it really ‘just a box of tea’? And yet the phenomenologists are telling me that, regardless of whether its green or vert or grun, IT still is the green object of my perceptual intent, which intent gathers it ‘there’ on my counter, curled onto a collective lap of comforting continuity in time and space. And these tendrils of language I use to fix the flux in place, when looked at more closely, reveal a strange complexity, an interactive multi-media art show of layered cognition, sensation, memory, whispering seamlessly beneath ‘it’s just a green tea box’. And just beginning now, or anytime, to consider it that way, like catching the trick of a perceptual illusion (Am I looking inside the transparent cube, or at its top?), thereby tampering with my own ‘taking it for granted function’, does change everything, does open up a whole new landscape of seeing, or injects a certain kind of poetic precision into ‘green tea box on red counter’. Reading Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl, Gendlin, I find myself haunted by the immense labour they put into explicating ‘the felt sense’ of their own versions of green tea boxes–a red book cover, an ashtray, a window that might or might not be opened if even noticed at all, a bus line-up, ‘democracy’.

This intellectual-cum-perceptual project is not a deconstruction, but an engagement with what is really at hand; it is grasping the green tea hand’s warm perceptual flesh, as it reaches out from the mysterious juncture that is me and my object.

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