3 A.M.

IOWA, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

IOWA, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
— T.S. Eliot, East Coker, from The Four Quartets

The Monotony of Being

THE SCREAM by Philip Sweeck

THE SCREAM by Philip Sweeck

A zoologist who observed gorillas in their native habitat was amazed by the uniformity of their life and their vast idleness. Hours and hours without doing anything. Was boredom unknown to them? This is indeed a question raised by a human, a busy ape. Far from fleeing monotony, animals crave it, and what they most dread is to see it end. For it ends, only to be replaced by fear, the cause of all activity. Inaction is divine; yet it is against inaction that man has rebelled. Man alone, in nature, is incapable of enduring monotony, man alone wants something to happen at all costs—something, anything…. Thereby he shows himself unworthy of his ancestor: the need for novelty is the characteristic of an alienated gorilla
— Emil Cioran

You Who Never Arrived

DEPARTURE by Philip Sweeck

DEPARTURE by Philip Sweeck

You Who Never Arrived by Rainer Maria Rilke

You who never arrived
in my arms, Beloved, who were lost
from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you. I have given up trying
to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment. All the immense
images in me—the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,
cities, towers, and bridges, and un-
suspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands that were once
pulsing with the life of the gods—
all rise within me to mean
you, who forever elude me.

You, Beloved, who are all
the gardens I have ever gazed at,
longing. An open window
in a country house—, and you almost
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. Streets that I chanced
upon,—
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back
my too-sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...


— Translated by Stephen Mitchell

The System

He’d had to do some shopping. He’d had to lay in supplies. Now just one of the insect’s antennae was protruding from the hole in the girder. It protruded, but it did not move. He had to buy soda, Oreos, bread, sandwich meat, mayonnaise, tomatoes, M&M’s, Almost Home cookies, ice cream, a Pepperidge Farm frozen chocolate cake, and four cans of canned chocolate frosting to be eaten with a large spoon. He’d had to log an order to rent film cartridges from the InterLace entertainment outlet. He’d had to buy antacids for the discomfort that eating all he would eat would cause him late at night. He’d had to buy a new bong, because each time he finished what simply had to be his last bulk quantity of marijuana he decided that that was it, he was through, he didn’t even like it anymore, this was it, no more hiding, no more imposing on his colleagues and putting different messages on his answering device and moving his car away from his condominium and closing his windows and curtains and blinds and living in quick vector’s between his bedroom’s InterLace telemeter’s films and his refrigerator and his toilet, and he would take the bong he’d used and throw it away wrapped in several plastic shopping bags. His refrigerator made its own ice in little cloudy crescent blocks and he loved it, when he had dope in his home he always drank a great deal of cold soda and ice water. His tongue almost swelled at just the thought. He looked at the phone and the clock. He looked at the windows but not at the foliage and blacktop driveway beyond the windows. He had already vacuumed his venetian blinds and curtains, everything was ready to be shut down. Once the woman who said she’d come had come, he would shut the whole system down.
— David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
Curtains by Philip Sweeck

Curtains by Philip Sweeck

Borrowed Time

Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it
— Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Iowa, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

Iowa, 2010 by Philip Sweeck

 

The Truth

The truth is you already know what it’s like. You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it all you can ever let anyone know. As though inside you is this enormous room full of what seems like everything in the whole universe at one time or another and yet the only parts that get out have to somehow squeeze out through one of those tiny keyholes you see under the knob in older doors. As if we are all trying to see each other through these tiny keyholes.

But it does have a knob, the door can open. But not in the way you think...The truth is you’ve already heard this. That this is what it’s like. That it’s what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless inbent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul. And you think it makes you a fraud, the tiny fraction anyone else ever sees? Of course you’re a fraud, of course what people see is never you. And of course you know this, and of course you try to manage what part they see if you know it’s only a part. Who wouldn’t? It’s called free will, Sherlock. But at the same time it’s why it feels so good to break down and cry in front of others, or to laugh, or speak in tongues, or chant in Bengali—it’s not English anymore, it’s not getting squeezed through any hole.

So cry all you want, I won’t tell anybody.
— David Foster Wallace, Oblivion
Happiness Not Included by Philip Sweeck

Happiness Not Included by Philip Sweeck

Lines of a Poem

When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read the line of a poem twice
— Robert Frank
The Hand by Philip Sweeck

The Hand by Philip Sweeck

In the Dust

We have to entertain the possibility that there is no reason for something existing; or that the split between subject and object is only our name for something equally accidental we call knowledge; or, an even more difficult thought, that while there may be some order to the self and the cosmos, to the microcosm and macrocosm, it is an order that is absolutely indifferent to our existence, and of which we can have only a negative awareness
— Eugene Tacker, In the Dust of This Planet
SUN by Philip Sweeck

SUN by Philip Sweeck

Moveable Feast

With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only truly sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.

In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.
— Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
PARIS FALL by Philip Sweeck

PARIS FALL by Philip Sweeck

 

A Challenge to the Dark

PARIS ANGEL by Philip Sweeck

PARIS ANGEL by Philip Sweeck

A Challenge to the Dark by Charles Bukowski

shot in the eye

shot in the brain

shot is the ass

shot like a flower in the dance

 

amazing how death wins hands down

amazing how much credence is given to idiot forms of life

 

amazing how laughter has been drowned out

amazing how viciousness is such a constant

 

I must soon declare my own war on their war

I must hold my last piece of ground

I must protect the small space I have made that has allowed me life

 

my life not their death

my death not their death...

 

Some Cities

Our relations with cities are like our relations with people. We love them, hate them, or are indifferent toward them. On our first day in a city that is new to us, we go looking for the city. We go down this street, around that corner. We are aware of the faces of passers-by. But the city eludes us, and we become uncertain whether we are looking for a city, or for a person.
— Victor Burgin, Some Cities
Woman in Blue by Philip Sweeck

Woman in Blue by Philip Sweeck

All the Way

 

Roll the Dice by Charles Bukowski

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
that.
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
fire.

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is