There seems to me at least two matters that an interesting review of Smoke and So It Seams might speculate upon:
1) The make-up of the narrative voice in Its relation to textual space and time [is It, perhaps, just ink squirted from an octopus?]; and,
2) What actually occurs vs. what really happens.
Such a critique might reveal hitherto unread seams possibly holding the texts together from below—seeming their voices’ hidden fascia, if you will.
A reviewer might also ask herself whether or not the texts render the return of “wildness/wilderness” as a potentially more evolved form of civilization the way chaos might seem a more complex form of order [to certain people ]? And if so, by extension, do the texts’ rendered implications suggest anarchy as a more evolved form of governing society, or not?
Actuality seems beyond our scope, and reality requires a leap of faith, conscious or not. We can only respond to real things because actual things might not stimulate the senses we apparently have. We respond to something whenever we perceive its importance, which seems its meaning. Vividness stimulates response, emerging meaning. Spirituality seams consciousness to meaning, perhaps.
Whom, by intuiting [that is feeling and/or sensing] the unwritten aspects or absented dimensions of these novels, seems to seam the writing narrator into a read text? You, perhaps? Who are you and who am I, or who do we seam to be, according to these novels? Who seems the reader and who seems the writer, relating to each other, meeting on this seam they call “text?”
These novels concern themselves with interiors, with what we imagine hiding inside Its shell. They approach their memes—subjects and objects, themes and characters—via sarcasm [a form of negation] while disclosing a universalism that destabilizes human being-ness, making a change of perception not only possible but necessary and actual for the next new message to be read. Our reality will then, perhaps, appear, trying to catch up. The action, far ahead as always, seems rooted in the verbs, not the nouns and modifiers we use in our vain attempts to apply meaning to what we perceive going on, what we think’s possibly happening to us…to “me”…what “we” do…the crisis of the crux Itself…whatever it seems itself be-ing.
These novels are as wild and loose as I could suture them, holding them together in the daily processes of writing. Their wildness and looseness serve as a negative, a contrast against which I [and, by extension, the reader] might perceive the shape of our own tameness and cultural sympathies.
The “wilder-ness” experience of reading/writing these novels seams to me the immediate reality of a natural universe within “human” experience. Sometimes, one might choose to surrender her desire and ability to make such experiences meaningful, choosing to give up one thing to gain another, so she might more simply experience the text in some less adulterated way [remember how you felt reading your first novel?]. Our ability to understand our actual position within any given situation seems limited, and therefore somewhat tangible, thanks to nature’s language function from which, it seems to me, emerges a kind of myth mentality where language seams comprehensibility into an incomprehensible universe. The fact language inevitably takes on “narrative” form makes myth, according to Joseph Campbell, “the secret opening through which inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.” In other words, myth isn’t the story, but the process, the means by which language creates and/or replicates meaning. Myth is the verb that language seeks to modify and govern via “grammar.” Myths replicate whatever grammar misses: the human place in the possibly inhuman world. Myths seam [or linguify ] meme-machines, replicating culture; and languages seem the seams holding It [the presumably self-replicating universal myth-verb] together.
These novels might suggest [or not] a “posthistoric primitivism ” that reveals the seams of the mythological, as opposed to the more prevalent historical, consciousness of some of my fellow and contemporary “Americans.” These novels seek out their initial “American” conditions, their originating apocalypses rendering “Nature-in-its-manner-of-operation” as fictional revelations.
These novels possibly explore human apocalypse/revelation at its point of entry [or exit], while Its subject, perhaps, seams Life together in Its entirety. I think I feel these novels as “American” books of the between/among… membrane texts forming boundaries among past, present and future with now feeling the present tenseness seaming the only tangible thing we might presently experience for ourselves. Every single word possibly seams a pun into Its deeper symbol for Itself. There is no chance here, only experience. It seems actual karma, form seaming an extension into or onto content, content then intending the form, knotting the deal. No? OK.
Normally, we’re not aware of how the socio-political-economic venom of “history” conspires to direct, or at least heavily influence, the types of choices we too often perceive ourselves making because we don’t know any better, or if we do we feel intimidated by the prospects of making other choices. Hopefully, these novels strip naked the whys and wherefores of this situation. Hopefully, certain readers might feel empowered by their new level of Self awareness…or not. Maybe they’ll project their newly found Self hatred onto these texts or, worse, onto me. That would be too bad, because I’ve been trying very hard to sort these issues out and bring them into better view so I could actually deal with them within myself for 25 years, me learning to hate me hating rather than you, and Smoke and So It Seams are the results of my best efforts at Self hatred properly aimed at the Self. Pathetic? Perhaps. Worthy of derision? Maybe. But these novels are what they are in the same way venom is venom, and I’ve seen much worse…Defending one’s poison seems a way of defending one’s indefensible Self when It seems like “me,” no?
When one studies existence—one’s life and the fictive projection often referred to as “life in general”—pondering the differences between reality and actuality, the nature of being and the being of nature, the physics of physics, etc. & et al, one might come to an understanding of power that recognizes some validity in the idea that our decisions might actually create the successive worlds we perceive ourselves occupying/occupied by, we seem both inhabitants and nests, coevolving with our parasites the way our hosts co-evolve with us…the way our systems work together to maintain our mutually contextualizing system via increasingly complex interactions over time as our life form[s] grow, but then again, maybe not. Yet, if so, I imagine one simple formula might begin a description of the process of decision making: I=E/R. That’s Ohm’s Law —current equals voltage divided by resistance. Currencies, like choices, generally follow the path of least resistance to achieve oneness or at-one-ment with their hungered for opposite [a negative charge seeking something more positive from which naturally emerges something resembling the lowest common denominator beneath the highest imagined numerator], desiring as little friction and fireworks as possible until they get there. No? So for anything to systemically happen a complex of stimulation of desire, resistance, and necessary degrees of satiation must emerge that shapes the flow of time and energy through our possibly shared realities. But what do I know? I merely live-write fictions.
Everything in these texts seems a possible reflection of a word-being’s psychosomatic apparatus for following its narrator’s apparent system of decision-making. Everything seems a reflection of a reflection and totally imaginary. Duh. Some earnest readers might try making sense of these novels by trying to figure out where I’m coming from. Hopefully, you as a reviewer might write something that may facilitate putting these books in someone’s hands, and your review will give them some tools to derive greater pleasure from what I’ve possibly rendered. Hopefully, these notes will help you, but maybe not. Maybe the reader will hear there’s lots of sex in these novels and buy them for that. But be assured, gentle reviewer, the sex is not pornographic [at least in my opinion].
The differences among readings/reviews might reflect the differences of private mind-dimensions projecting personal thoughts into reading/reviewing the texts. In other words, I imagine some “folks,” unable to escape themselves, will simply misread these novels. And maybe you, being privy to these notes, can help or at least try setting them free onto happier trails...[!]. But I don’t know. In light of everything, I believe it’s better being paralyzed by knowledge than activated by ignorance. So I keep in mind Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” while writing the way an angry person might repeat “Thou shalt not kill” over and over to themselves as they go about their business, hoping for the best possible morals to emerge as an improved, or at least further evolved, effect…
Finally, if these novels have any utility whatsoever, they might be viewed as antidotes to the Tea Party mentality. They also have very nice covers designed by Geoffrey Gatza, a modern day Renaissance man, and will look cool on your coffee table or lap on the bus. So please buy a copy of each and tell your friends to buy them, too.
For better or worse, or no matter. It’s been fun. Cheers.
October 20, 2010
1. The boundary between “wilderness” and “civilization,” “wild” and “civil” don’t actually exist, but exist only as a mental construct or invention that makes mental processes possible [much like the number “0” was imagined as the boundary/seam/membrane/edge between positive and negative numbers, because “numbers” were always relative to each other and in motion, in that they needed to represent change to be useful. According to Max Oelschlaeger in The Idea of Wilderness: “The boundaries between wilderness and civilization can be explored only obliquely. If we look directly through the historical lens we see nothing. And the reason why we see nothing is clear: the idea of history itself precludes any understanding of a Paleolithic idea of wilderness. The idea of history itself has a history…What is crucial at this juncture is to recognize that through the lens of history human experience takes place entirely outside nature…Our prevailing definitions of ‘wildness’ and ‘wilderness’ preclude recognition of nature as a spontaneous and naturally organized system in which all parts are harmoniously interrelated; in consequence, humankind has believed itself compelled to impose order on nature…The Paleolithic counterrevolutionary, however, actually sees the deep past. From such a perspective…wild nature and culture are understood as organically related. So viewed, the destruction of things wild and free will entail the collapse of any civilization that rests upon them…the modern project, which has long promised the total humanization of the earth’s surface, is paradoxically destined to fail through its own success.”
2. The evolution of life seems a “self-organizing system.” From Fritjof Capra’s The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems: “Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela have described the process of evolution in terms of their theory of autopoiesis, seeing the evolutionary history of a species as the history of its structural coupling….and Gaia theory explore[s] the planetary dimensions of the unfolding of life…Throughout the living world evolution cannot be limited to the adaptation of organisms to their environment, because the environment itself is shaped by a network of living systems capable of adaptation and creativity…they co-evolve…an ongoing dance that proceeds through a subtle interplay of competition and cooperation, creation and mutual adaptation.”  I would amend that to “…creation and destruction, unitary growth and mutual adaptation.” Capra’s view of nature reads a little too nice for my tastes. Nature/evolution seem meaner than that. I often wonder if “my” interests and Gaia’s interests are one and the same. I have strong doubts that whatever benefits me personally will benefit the planet, because I don’t think what would necessarily benefit the planet would behoove me in any way. In other words, I struggle with the idea that “man” and “God” have competing interests, and that the values of the one don’t actually work for the other. In light of this, it becomes very complicated to develop values that make universal sense. That’s not saying it’s impossible to do so, I’m merely confessing that I don’t know how it might be done. This problem might be the crux of my writing situation…I have ideas without knowledge. But that seems to me a universal among humans.
3. Civilization: 1) The result of man’s desire to please woman. 2) A relative term measuring the complexities of a given set of human social systems, where the greater the perceived complexity the greater quantity of civilization is assumed. 3) The domestication of wilderness, the taming of the wild. 4) Areas of dense human population. 5) The value of creating a culture that allows us to believe we’ve risen up out of the muck, inventing the bootstraps by which we pulled ourselves up. 5) The degree of comfy coziness one feels relative to a contestant on Survivor Island. 6) A more complex and secretive rendering of Goulding’s Lord of the Flies. 7) The way the human superorganism appears to be operating.
4. Chaos: Making A New Science, Robert Gleick: “A chaotic system could be stable if its particular brand of irregularity persisted in the face of small disturbances. Lorenz’s system was an example…The chaos Lorenz discovered was as stable as a marble in a bowl [if you nudged it, it would return to the same spot]. You could add noise to this system, jiggle it, stir it up, interfere with its motion, and then when everything settled down, the transients dying away like echoes in a canyon, the system would return to the same peculiar pattern of irregularity as before. It was locally unpredictable, globally stable.” 
5. Certain people are those who perceive their worlds as self-organizing systems as opposed to actually pre-ordained by a god in heaven. Those who see the world as a self-organizing system are process oriented, more interested in creating than their actual creations, which are always flawed replications of what they really meant [if they end up actually meaning something]. And that’s the whole point: Flawed does not equal fallen. It seems other than that…a systemic necessity, perhaps.
6. Anarchism: There’s not much agreement on a single definition for anarchism, evidenced by how controversial every definition seems to be. Regardless, I’ve come to define it for myself as the feeling that the political-economic state of human affairs—civilization itself—is a malignant tumor metastasizing across the face of its earthly host. Therefore, anarchism seems a necessary rebellion against the discontents of civilization, and an extremely individualistic collectivism opposing all authority beyond the local…not trusting in or having faith in global entities…again, the interests of “individual” seem opposed to the interests of “gods.” Worship might not be a good thing. Respect, maybe. But I’m not sure.
7. Thoreau begins Civil Disobedience: “I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, ‘That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” Italics and bold signify my emphasis, not Thoreau’s.
8. The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces,” Joseph Campbell.
9. Grammar [excerpts from a very good and short article on grammar by Cathbin Ayoob]:[Garammar is] “‘The internalized system that native speakers of a language share’…‘the unbound and ungoverned speech in which people actually live and manage their lives has become a challenge to the Crown’ [quote from first book of grammar, 1492, coinciding with the onset of the colonial era]…If these rules propose that there is one perfect language, and language creates reality, then it can be understood that these rules assume one perfect reality…James Baldwin writes: ‘People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by reality that they cannot articulate. It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power’ (40). Those who control language and the formation of language shape reality. Perhaps it is time to have language rules that incorporate all of these origins.”
10. Linguify. For an object to become a subject of language, having evolved from mere complex of atoms or gene-machine to word-being.
11. Etymology of sutra: "series of aphorisms," 1801, from Skt. sutram "rule," lit. "string, thread" (as a measure of straightness), from sivyati "sew;" cognate with L. suere "to sew" (see sew), “to suture.” Applied to rules of grammar, law, philosophy, etc., along with their commentaries. Also a collection of aphorisms relating to some aspect of the conduct of life; the sermons of Buddha; one of the approximately 4000 rules or aphorisms that constitute Panini's grammar of sanskrit. Therefore, So It Seams might also have been “So It Sutrad” [sic].
12. Posthistoric primitivism: Paul Shepard recommends that we need to recover pre-history and reconnect to mythos (sacred story), ancestors, and nonhuman Others. He believes that history’s real lesson is that it is no guide to the future, because it is a declaration of independence from the deep past and its peoples, living or dead, and from the natural state of our being. We must study primal peoples to begin thinking about living ecologically in post-historic and post-industrial ways.
13. Oelschlaeger, 11.
14. Ohm's law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference or voltage across the two points, and inversely proportional to the resistance between them. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohm%27s_law#cite_ref-0.
15. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Observer Effect [from Wikipedia]: “The uncertainty principle is often stated this way: The measurement of position necessarily disturbs a particle's momentum, and vice versa. This makes the uncertainty principle a kind of observer effect. This explanation is not incorrect, and was used by both Heisenberg and Bohr. But they were working within the philosophical framework of logical positivism. In this way of looking at the world, the true nature of a physical system, inasmuch as it exists, is defined by the answers to the best-possible measurements which can be made in principle. To state this differently, if a certain property of a system cannot be measured beyond a certain level of accuracy (in principle), then this limitation is a limitation of the system and not the limitation of the devices used to make this measurements. So when they made arguments about unavoidable disturbances in any conceivable measurement, it was obvious to them that this uncertainty was a property of the system, not of the devices. Today, logical positivism has become unfashionable in many cases, so the explanation of the uncertainty principle in terms of observer effect can be misleading.[original research?] For one, this explanation makes it seem to the non-positivist that the disturbances are not a property of the particle, but a property of the measurement process; the particle secretly does have a definite position and a definite momentum, but the experimental devices we have are not good enough to find out what these are. This interpretation is not compatible with standard quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, states that have both definite position and definite momentum at the same time do not exist. This explanation is misleading in another way, because sometimes it is a failure to measure the particle that produces the disturbance. For example, if a perfect photographic film contains a small hole, and an incident photon is not observed, then its momentum becomes uncertain by a large amount. By not observing the photon, we discover indirectly that it went through the hole, revealing the photon's position. The third way in which the explanation can be misleading is due to the nonlocal nature of a quantum state. Sometimes, two particles can be entangled, and then a distant measurement can be performed on one of the two. This measurement should not disturb the other particle in any classical sense, but it can sometimes reveal information about the distant particle. This restricts the possible values of position or momentum in strange ways. Unlike the other examples, a distant measurement will never cause the overall distribution of either position or momentum to change. The distribution only changes if the results of the distant measurement are known. A secret distant measurement has no effect whatsoever on a particle's position or momentum distribution. But the distant measurement of momentum for instance will still reveal new information, which causes the total wavefunction to collapse. This will restrict the distribution of position and momentum, once that classical information has been revealed and transmitted. For example If two photons are emitted in opposite directions from the decay of positronium, the momenta of the two photons are opposite. By measuring the momentum of one particle, the momentum of the other is determined, making its momentum distribution sharper, and leaving the position just as indeterminate. But unlike a local measurement, this process can never produce more position uncertainty than what was already there. It is only possible to restrict the uncertainties in different ways, with different statistical properties, depending on what property of the distant particle you choose to measure. By restricting the uncertainty in p to be very small by a distant measurement, the remaining uncertainty in x stays large. (This example was actually the basis of Albert Einstein's important suggestion of the EPR paradox in 1935.) This queer mechanism of quantum mechanics is the basis of quantum cryptography, where the measurement of a value on one of two entangled particles at one location forces, via the uncertainty principle, a property of a distant particle to become indeterminate and hence unmeasurable. But Heisenberg did not focus on the mathematics of quantum mechanics, he was primarily concerned with establishing that the uncertainty is actually a property of the world — that it is in fact physically impossible to measure the position and momentum of a particle to a precision better than that allowed by quantum mechanics. To do this, he used physical arguments based on the existence of quanta, but not the full quantum mechanical formalism. This was a surprising prediction of quantum mechanics, and not yet accepted. Many people would have considered it a flaw that there are no states of definite position and momentum. Heisenberg was trying to show this was not a bug, but a feature—a deep, surprising aspect of the universe. To do this, he could not just use the mathematical formalism, because it was the mathematical formalism itself that he was trying to justify.” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle#Uncertainty_principle_and_observer_effect
16. 10 Rules I Seem to Live By: 1—Insist on nothing, including non-insistence. 2—Live philosophically. 3—Write: Recurse/Replicate evolutionary materials in linguistic form as an “artistic medium.” 4—Commune with, and meditate upon, “Shiva.” 5—Look for large ass stimulation. 6—When hungry, eat; when thirsty, drink—but be expedient about it and don’t dwell. 7—Be your own man; work and play for no one. 8—Don’t be ruled by superficial, commonplace desires. 9—Do what’s necessary to stay on course. 10—Your character seams a role to play, so go ahead and act it.
Ayoob, Cathbin. “The Systematic Teaching of Grammar: A Critique”, Intertext: A Student Publication of the Syracuse University Writing Program.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Pantheon Books, Princeton University Press, 1968.
Capra, Fritjof. The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems. Doubleday, New York. 1996.
Gleick, James. Chaos: Making A New Science. Penguin, New York. 1988.
Heisenberg, Werner. Uncertainty Principle [and “Observer Effect”]. Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_Principle#Uncertainty_principle_and_observer_effect
Oelschlaeger, Max. The Idea of Wilderness. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1991.
“Ohm’s Law.” Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohm%27s_law
Shepard, Paul. Posthistoric primitivism at http://www.archive.org/stream/Post-historicPrimitivism/Post-historicPrimitivism_djvu.txt
Thoreau, Henry David. Civil Disobedience, 1849, @ http://thoreau.eserver.org/civil.html.
OTHER, PERHAPS RELEVANT READING, Etc.
Capra, Fritjof. The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Shambhala Publications. 2000.
Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (©1968); A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan (©1971); Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan (©1972); Tales of Power (©1974) ISBN 0-671-73252-8. (Autumn 1971 to the 'Final Meeting' with don Juan Matus in 1973.); & etc. @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibliography_of_Carlos_Castaneda
Crumb, R. The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb. W.W. Norton, New York, 2009.
Dick, Philip K. A Scanner Darkly. Vintage, New York, 1999.
Diogenes. At Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes_of_Sinope
Dylan, Bob. Time Out of Mind, Blood On The Tracks, Positively Fourth Street, Highway 61 Revisited, Desolation Row, etc. & et al.
Epic of Gilgamesh. At Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_gilgamesh; and online text: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11000.
Federman, Raymond. Critifiction: Postmodern Essays. SUNY, 2010.
Genesis, The Book of. As translated, annotated, etc. & et al, in the Oxford Annotated Edition, Oxford University Press, 1971.
Homer. The Iliad and The Odyssey. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iliad, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey.
Jonah, The Book of. Ibid Genesis.
Kafka, Franz. Parables and Paradoxes. Schocken. 1972.
Kama Sutra. Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama_Sutra.
Kerouac, Jack. Visions of Cody [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visions_of_Cody]; The Dharma Bums [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dharma_Bums]; Big Sur [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Sur_(novel)]; Desolation Angels [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desolation_Angels_(novel)]; Visions of Gerard [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visions_of_Gerard].
Lovelock, James. The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of our Living Earth. W.W. Norton, 1995.
Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick, “Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street.”
Nollmann, Jim. Spiritual Ecology: A Guide to Reconnecting with Nature. Bantam, 1990.
O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1971.
Orwell, George. 1984, Animal Farm.
Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels. Vintage, 1989; Adam, Eve & the Serpent: Sex & Politics and Early Christianity, Vintage, 1989.
Pirandello, Luigi. Various Works. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirandello
Popul Vuh, The. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popol_Vuh and The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings, by Dennis Tedlock, Touchstone, 1996.
Pynchon, Thomas. Gravity’s Rainbow, Viking Press, 1973.
Revelation, The Book of, Apocalypse of St. John of Patmos. Ibid, Oxford Bible.
Tao te Ching, Victor H. Mair, translator; Huston Smith, introduction; Quality Paperback Book Club, 1998.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden [http://thoreau.eserver.org/walden00.html]; The Maine Woods [http://thoreau.eserver.org/mewoods.html]; “Walking,” [http://thoreau.eserver.org/walking.html].
Tibetan Book of the Dead, …(Mystical Classics of the World) by Huston Smith, Bantam, 1993.