I called these poems Haunted Evaporations to try and draw together a bulging net of poems, thoughts, gods, stories, experiences, anecdotes, spontaneous imaginings. The poems pursue a strange intuition of the terrible wonder of ephemerality, of never crossing the same river twice, of not being solid and of becoming luminous and shadowed with that fact. However, I paused at the point of sharing them, as my reading.
“I began to feel that the central image “to become a haunted evaporation” – ie to let go of being in favour of becoming, to release the idea of essence in favour of fluidity, to see all forms of identity as a kind of trap – that in some ways, this was indeed a very old desire in western thought. The desire I feel to be somewhere else other than where I am, the desire to be free from the specifics of who I am, that I can create who I am – all of these relate also to the rampant individualism that accompanies materialism. It’s as if we have said “we will take all of this out of control brutality and greed as long as we can pretend to be who we want to be”
To transcend this hopeless vision through a personal spirituality is an old idea indeed and a cruel one – I am reminded of a story I read of the Pharoahs, worshipped as gods with huge cosmically aligned pyramids to blast their souls into the eternal heavens. At one site, sealed within the door was the body of a baby, placed there apparently by a mother who wanted her mortal and still born child to take it’s place in the stars. Transendence can be cruel when it becomes blind to privelege.
The idea of transcendence seems attractive when your body seems to represent the oppressive force, that normalisation that becomes invisable, the water that the fish can’t see, white fragility, white privelege, whitewash, whiteness, a fantasy of purity, a fantasy clearly revealed in the way that whiteness only barely matches the reality of flesh and skin tone. Whiteness itself seems like a form of invisability, a whiteout, an apple store science fiction vision of the future, clinical, spiritual, the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment of death. Is learning to become a haunted evaporation a kind of cop out, a way of avoiding the reality of oppression, of politics, of suffering? There are not many poems directly addressed to commom problems or political struggles here.
To be invisible means to be hidden from the eyes of others, a desire born out of either shame, or from a desire to decieve, or a desire to watch without being watched and gain power from that watching. However, these poems make things visable, the traces of gods, of broken loves, bits of stories. Reading the poems back, I see I was wrong, they are not a cop out but ta desire to move from not being seen by the eyes of others to being haunted by the reality of slowly disappearing.
The desire of poems is to reach into the flow of the world where that images, gods, broken loves, half formed thoughts and memories, do haunt us. The reality of death and of the imagination still offer a stinging wake up call to go out and do that work you feel called to do, to participate in the stream of life, to become haunted by the world, and so to haunt it with your presence. Are we not so often like ghosts to each other, appearing and disappearing from each other’s world’s, haunting each other with our problems and desires?
And might not this position in fact enable us to be more in touch with others, to be less concerned with being pigeonholed and more concerned with how to relate? This is not the facile play of image upon image, in an attempt to subvert a tired culture that no longer cares about being subverted, or if milkshakes have a cheery greeting and an ironic sense of their own ingredients, but a desire to disappear and reappear in motion and emotion, the fusion of the object with it’s desire, and the honouring of being within a greater whole.