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The body is empty, like the sky; empty is empty, the four elements are the four elements, and the five aggregates are the five aggregates wherever they are found. The female is no different from a male, so both male and female acquire the Dharma without distinction. It is nothing more than taking seriously the experience of the Buddha Way. So do not think about such differences as male and female.

—Dōgen, Raihai Tokuzui

Her situation in life was representable, she fancied, as an infinite system of second-degree equations, any of which could be worked out to either of two solutions, a male or a female. Half the world was described by the scenarios in which the discriminant was greater than zero and yielded two distinct real solutions, a difference everyone could point to and agree on; the other, more painful half consisted of scenarios where the discriminant was less than zero and yielded a pair of complex conjugates with the same real component, separated only along the imaginary axis. Amphibians between being and non-being, Leibniz had called those numbers; but even if the distinctions were confined to her imagination, she knew how much they meant to her amphibious self. Balanced on the knife-edge between these two realms were those special cases of reprieve where the discriminant evaluated to exactly zero, interposing no distance between the male and female solutions. In these moments the two conditions were one. To stand alone in a gravel riverbed under cactus-scratched cliffs, to be admitted into an arrangement of stars, a keyboard fugue, a color-field painting, a set-theoretic proof, brush calligraphy or a brush landscape reduced to calligraphic gestures, a language spoken only by the dead: all these things, which appeared from the outside to be austerities, from the inside were the most wanton and sensual experiences imaginable precisely because their indifference to the human gaze, presenting exactly the same face to everyone, granted to her that she might cancel out of her own equation and leave the object alone.

Hence the sadness that came upon her later, in more sophisticated quarters, when she was told that her sensation of disappearance could only be a delusion or a trap, that in reality one could never cease to occupy a standpoint and that her moments of supposed nonexistence within music or mathematics were all a ruse; as if, while she was standing in that gravel riverbed, unheeded and unbodied, a second traveler had suddenly intruded his head past the overhanging hillcrest, adding another term to the equation and throwing the carefully leveled zero out of balance; as if he had fixed her with a leer and forced her back into the compromise of herself, always delimited and, what was more, now flagrantly guilty—I hope you’re ashamed of what you were doing down there.

Not to be looked at, that was the only relief to be hoped for, because she was enfolded in a body like an awful suit, everyone mistook the suit for herself and she had not been led to guess that any other suits existed. She climbed down a slope of cholla and brittlebush to a stony riverbed, where she settled between sun-warmed boulders like a snake and shrank low when steps passed on the trail above, afraid of the glance that would once again impose the body on her, trapping the filmy, unbounded portion of herself back inside a stupid shirt and pants, stupid limbs, bone and hair.

In the city she took the biggest, blackest, baggiest coat on offer and wore it around like an event horizon, trusting it to swallow any gaze that might drift her way.

Sex was a farce best not attended.

Torso of Artemis/Floyd the Barber

Du mußt dein Leben ändern

She shaved feeling it to be a parody of the truly desired operation, which would be to whittle away all extraneous matter as if she were a wax figure reducible to some other, more realized shape, which by Michelangelo’s conceit stood already latent inside her.

Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.

—Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

It had come to her early, whether instilled from without or distilled from within, that the most shameful thing in life was to be caught out expressing a desire for anything more extravagant than eggs on toast, anything that could not be fairly well immediately and invisibly granted; the fulfillment of larger desires was not possible in her world, or possible only through sacrifice and stratagem, by an arduous exchange of moves and countermoves asking more effort than she could possibly command, the first of which—to express the desire, and so advance an opening pawn—would commit her to proceed with the rest, grimly mounting one defense after another to be ground down by an opponent whose eventual triumph was already legible on the board, set in the disposition of its squares before a single piece was shifted from its ranks. Better not to play. Better to shut up that infant desire in some narrow apartment of her hidden heart.

January was humid and warm, and February fooled the forsythia: none of the townspeople had ever seen such weather.

Lolita

The end of time as a shear layer moving alongside you, always one step ahead of memory. Yesterday the end of time was placid, an evenly washed sky like the surface of a lake. Today it’s warmer, with birdcalls.

Wie man wird, was man ist.

The past wears its old clothes, it won’t be resuited.

Do you go to the country?
It isn’t very far
There’s people there who will hurt you
Because of who you are

—Blur, “Coffee & TV,” 1999

Kathleen Stock, OBE

Apocrypha

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven, and he fell to the earth. There he beheld two snakes entwined, and struck them with his staff. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales.

Attractor States

A right-hand glove could be put on the left hand, if it could be turned around in four-dimensional space.

—Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 6.36111

The difficulties: how do you imagine the process unfolding in time, where do you set the axis of rotation, and what in fact is the nature of the glove, this familiar object you’ve been pulling onto your right hand your entire life without ever suspecting it was other than what it seemed?

Assuming the axis of rotation transfixes the object: if the glove is in fact no more than it appears, a three-dimensional object with no extension along a fourth spatial degree, then the commencement of rotation will cause it to wink instantly out of apparent existence—except, theoretically, for a widthless line segment coinciding with the axis of rotation—until the transformation completes, at which time it will wink back into existence as its own mirror image, every point in its body affording a strict bijective correspondence to its former self but the geometric relations between those points now inverted.

If, on the other hand, the familiar glove turns out to be the three-dimensional tip of a four-dimensional iceberg, an object with previously unsuspected contours extending into hidden space, then before it attains its final transformed state—newly mirrored, but in every other respect the same old article—it will pass through warpings and deformations such that it ceases to resemble a glove at all, shrinking and distending, exhibiting unforeseeable prominences and depressions, splitting into multiple bodies before fusing back into one, and generally inducing nausea and fomenting outrage among church, state, academy, press and even those many private hearths that suppose, wrongly, they’ve already seen it all.

Sōjun Mel Weitsman (1929-2021)

I only knew him at Berkeley Zen Center for a couple of years, but that much listening and a few quiet encounters were more than enough to be certain I was in the presence of wisdom, and wisdom that knew to wear itself lightly. I’ve encountered the trait elsewhere, but not often, and never in someone whose position of authority enabled him to do so much good.

There have been so many tributes over the last few days, public and private. I hadn't known that he was given the same name on ordination as Ikkyū. That astounds me; everything I knew of his manner was so mild and measured. But perhaps those contraries coincide as well.

Hakuryū Sōjun Daiōshō

白龍宗純大和尚

Fending off the devil in georgia

seems like it’s rainin all over the world

turn up the volume

the opposite of bullshit

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