7.31.2018

Delirium

Sometimes, I find myself using a word increasingly often without understanding quite what I mean by it. It insinuates itself into my vocabulary, sure, but it's more penetrating than it: without my knowing, it takes root in my body, in my thinking, in my image of the world. As it nestles, it becomes more fertile, sprouting longer and longer tendrils until it winds out my mouth, as much a surprise to me as anyone. I'm the dummy in this cosmic ventriloquist act. Then it comes again at a different angle — and then again: a veritable blooming.

After a period of uttering its name, I begin to take note of it, feeling for its weight, following its logic, learning its lessons. What do you want from me, delirium?

This is my reckoning: delirium, I think, is the state of being without fixed orientation. No ground below or welcoming heaven above. No ideals or concepts to guide. No map, no anchor, no axes, no north star, no goal, no origin.

Delirium is not disorienting per se; it's a-orienting. That is, it's not the event of losing orientation; it's the state of not having orientation. Of course, if you're counting on some fixed tether and you stumble into delirium, well, that's certainly disorienting — reaching for the last step in the dark and it's not there. But what if you never expected there to be a step?

I knew at a young age that the universe is delirious. What does up and down mean in space? I knew that representations of the Earth as always pointing the same direction were arbitrary. But what I couldn't figure out is why all the maps I saw were the same. Was this some kind of conspiracy? And  why do all the images of the solar system look the same — a center and everything going orderly around it? I mean, anything can be the center; the Earth could be pointing any direction, depending on your perspective.


Someone told me about these videos of the solar system in motion which, finally, begin to look like what I knew as an eight year old — a calculus rather than a geometry:



But watch what happens in this video: it claims a universal logic, an orienting shape. "Life," it tells us, "is a vortex, not just a rotation." Indeed, many in the psychedelic community seek precisely this, what they call sacred geometry. This supposes that the the universe is in fact geometric — three-dimensional rather than four-dimensional (or nine or 11, depending on which string theory you believe). Which is bizarre as, uh, isn't it obvious that everything is in motion? Shouldn't they be talking about sacred calculus, not sacred geometry?

To me, the psychedelic is not the revelation of a secret order, a master shape such as the golden ratio. It's a demand for going with a universe that is distinctly not geometric, that swirls every which way, that keeps moving, emerging in unknowable ways, ways that can be toured but never mapped, a universe that will never have had a ground or clear direction. The psychedelic is an experience of becoming without goal, concept, formula, or ratio in a universe that is not disorienting because it will never have had orientation. The melody seems to guide things only to dissipate, morph, go somewhere else entirely, into another melody, always at the edge of chaos. This might date me but wasn't this the flow of a Dead show — this teetering, this never-quite-knowing, this movement in and out and over and through? When they were flowing, there was no sacred geometry; there was exquisite delirium. The psychedelic is a ride, a trip, a movement of emergent order (and hence is not chaos).

In any case, I demand delirium from my art. In fact, I'm tempted to say that delirium is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition of art. Once an image becomes illustrative, symbolic, or didactic, it ceases to be art: it becomes cliché, dead on arrival. Art is precisely the conditions of a certain free play, an internal movement without ground or determining concept.

But while I don't want my art getting fixed in place, I do find myself distinctly attracted to art with arrows — Paul Klée, Matthew Ritchie, Eva Hess, Julie Mehretu. Their arrows are not the arrows of street signs; they don't orient. On the contrary, they foment delirium, offering a whiff of direction without orientation. These arrows are a local flow within a set of other flows. What these artists teach me is that delirium is not chaos. While there may be no external term — no symbols or messages, no secret meaning — there are internal flows, drifts, currents, and eddies.

Eva Hesse

Matthew Ritchie

Paul Klée

Julie Mehretu

In my reckoning of delirium, I even did something I rarely do: I looked at a dictionary — that institution that works so hard to shut down the delirium of language by becoming a disembodied, deadpan authority. This word means this! Me, I love when people use words in all sorts of ways; I love that literally has come to mean something akin to emphatically (I think!). I like when people pronounce words differently, use them in odd ways. I love reading William Burroughs who tears grammar apart only to put it back together again along emergent, affective lines of force.

Anyway, the dictionary tell us that delirium means "a state of violent excitement or emotion." I'm not quite sure what to make of that. For while the act of losing orientation is inherently violent — an unmooring —  delirium is not violent at all. On the contrary, delirium is a condition of peace, of love. In fact, it seems to me that having fixed orientation is violent as it shuts down play, establishing a pulpit of judgement. Delirium has no pulpit, no firm declarations, no absolute demands. Or, if it does, they're not front and center; they're just another element, another arrow pointing away.

Everywhere I look, delirium is pathologized. Google it and you'll see what I mean. I was surprised by the uniformity of perspective. No one comes out in favor of delirium! Not only does the dictionary fix it as violent, delirium is listed in the DSM-5: "Delirium is a common and serious problem among acutely unwell persons. Although linked to higher rates of mortality, institutionalization and dementia, it remains underdiagnosed. Careful consideration of its phenomenology is warranted to improve detection and therefore mitigate some of its clinical impact."

No doubt, delirium can be unsettling and scary. Since I was young, I've often experienced a temporary delirium as I feel knowledge of myself in the world disintegrate — I'm not quite sure who I am, where I live, where I'm going. This sensation is fleeting and usually unpleasant. I may be more or less alone in this; I mentioned it once to my now ex-wife — who is a brilliant artist and fantastic human being — saying something like: "You know that moment every day when, at some point, everything gives way and unravels?" To which she replied, with deadpan genius and a bit of concern — not for me but for her decision to marry me: "Uh, no."

But I don't think I'm alone in this. And I've come to believe that it is a good thing, a reminder that all is fleeting, that the stuff of my ego and stake in the social is not everything, that there are other states of being, states of becoming, that there is a milieu of every-which-way flow that runs through this seemingly ordered social structure. As Alan Watts writes, "To go out of your mind once a day is tremendously important, because by going out of your mind you come to your senses."

Ahem. Anyway, revisiting the common dictionary definition — that "state of violent excitement or emotion" — I do like picturing someone getting so excited about something — say, getting a kiss from a sweetie — that he takes leave of himself, even takes leave of his sweetie and that kiss, and enters a new state of going, one in which the kiss will never have been the goal. That thing he craved so ardently, those lips on his, becomes just another thing as he's launched into a state of such frenzy that the ground gives way — and ego and ground and all orientation along with it. Where he thought the kiss would orient him, it in fact sends him deliriously adrift. And nothing could be better.

Delirium is, for me, the condition of critique and what, in my book, I call immanent reading. I go into a text — a book, film, party, person — without expectation, without goal, without firm grounding. I await what it will do to me, do with me, how it will carry me along. In fact, if it fixes itself and tries to fix me too ardently, I walk away. That is preaching, not the experience I want from art, people, books. Like that kiss from a sweetie, I want to be set adrift.

The world around us works hard to orient us. Alarm clocks, jobs, expectations of marriage, school, debt, dental check ups: these things are markers, sign posts, that give direction, marking a path. Go this way! You're on the path! Indeed, consider the things people often list as the greatest causes of depression: moving, losing a job, divorce. Each of these is disorienting, the loss of regulated time and relationships.

The remedy the world offers is not to negotiate delirium but to end delirium by throwing down new anchors. Find a new apartment! Get a new job! Get a new spouse! And I get that, I do. Being adrift in this culture —without work, without a home, without a romantic partner — can be profoundly unsettling and upsetting. I've certainly experienced it: without these tethers, it's as if I'm plummeting.

But I want to suggest that rather than only pathologizing delirium, we can offer modes of going with delirium. That being untethered to any fixed orientation — economic, domestic, romantic, sexual — can offer possibilities of knowledge and experience that are expansive, illuminating, edifying, revelatory. 

There are modes of going, modes of participation in the world, that don't need or want a fixed sense of time, place, or person. Delirium demands a form of surrender — surrendering control, ego, the immediate safety of home and hearth. It asks for a different way of going. It asks for poise rather than steadfastness, readiness rather than expectation, openness rather than preferences, an oar rather than an anchor.

This is not to say that delirium is in and of itself a good thing. It can of course be terrifying, a true pathology.  My point — yes, the irony of driving home my point in an essay on delirium is not lost on me —  is that delirium is not in and of itself something to be avoided. That, in fact, there is great value to be found in delirium. That delirium may very well be the condition of all critical and ecstatic states. That there is joy, wisdom, and knowledge in being untethered, adrift in the flux and flow of it all. That there is a pedagogy lurking there teaching us that we don't just have to quash the chaos to go through the world: we can learn to go with the great cosmic teem to become with a universe that will never have had any orientation — a universe of delirium. 

7.29.2018

The Way of a Way


I just spent the last few days at the Sierra Hot Springs where people of all ages and sizes shed their clothes to lounge on decks and in pools. It's hard not to notice all the different ways the human body can go — this one, long and lean, is so jaunty, as if listening to some cheery diddy only she can hear; that one, a bit doughy, lilts leftwards; that one sits heavy on his heals, slouching unto himself; me, I imagine myself sauntering, a lazy, bent string bean. Everywhere I look, I am struck by the variegation and particularity of how we make our way. And that's just looking at human beings!

Birds, planets, chairs, vegetables, flatware, cows, grass, clouds: everything has a way of going. Some clouds wisp, others puff. One cat lounges, heavy and oblivious while another, alert to every rustle, is coiled to pounce. With its overstuffed and worn cushions, the couch on the deck beckons the slump of guests while the metal chairs in the grass, perhaps more nimble, demand firmer attention.

Everything has a comportment — a way of hanging in the world, the way flesh drapes and skeletons lean. Everything has an external speed and rhythm which we might call a gait — the butterfly's hiccup (pace Lohren Green), the bee's punctuated zigs, the dancer's splayed poise. Everything has an internal speed and rhythm, as well, a mode of consumption and self-production which we might call metabolism. Everything has a temperature; we all burn differently.

A way of going is not an essence. It is something that is created, determined by a variety of forces. As we live, we happen with the world and, cooperatively, we make and are made. Of course, things have a material constitution that seems to have hard and fast limits. As the great Stoic, Epictetus, writes: If you would be a wrestler, consider your shoulders, your back, your thighs; for different persons are made for different things. But this limit is not absolute. Just ask Rudy Ruettiger or Alexandra Billings. We may have physical limits but even these are plastic, even these are recast in the act of living as other forces come to play — economic, cultural, bodily.

Think of a tree. As it grows, it takes on the world, growing in and around and with a fence.


 Or it takes on the wind, almost becoming the wind.


Just as a tree grows with a fence or wind, all things become with the world. Think about yourself and all the ways you took on the world and the world formed you — your desires, humor, vocabulary, imagination, the things you consider cool, that annoy you, intrigue you. Yes, you came out of the womb rearing to go this way or that; you were already on a trajectory. But that trajectory was not of your own making; your way of going occurs in what we call the middle voice, neither active nor passive, both active and passive, between and among mother and father and culture and class and history. A way of going always already supersedes the nature/nurture dichotomy.

A way of going is always a way of going-with. This going-with is determined by the respective comportment, gait, metabolism, and temperature of the various bodies. And is not limited to physical states. A cat may take on human-becoming or dog-becoming: we all know cats that act like dogs or people. My cat in college, Metapuss, would lie in my bed, her head on the pillow, her arms outstretched to cuddle. Men take on woman-becoming and vice-versa, necessarily. A person may take on rock-becoming — firm, stoic, staid. Another, the wind: blustery, relentless, swirling. We all take on the way of other things depending on our way and the way of the things around us.

A way, then, is not tethered to a body. It lives in a stranger place — not in the heavens or in the body but as a style, as a set of possibilities flowing through the world, lurking invisibly but palpably between bodies, a set of relations that link elements together in just such a way. You grab on to this or that way if you have the constitution — the comportment, gait, metabolism, temperature.

But while everything has a way of going, this is quite different than what is meant by, say, the Way of the Samurai. I capitalize that Way to distinguish it from the more generic, if always specific, way. What is this difference? If everything enjoys a way of going, what makes a Way any different?

Well, there is usually effort involved. While still existing in the middle voice, a Way demands action, work, attention, focus, discipline to counter the hegemony of ready-made life, of banal worldly distraction. But as the Taoists point out, this activity leads to inactivity, back to the middle voice, to that place between active and passive, neither active nor passive. In this sense, a Way is a repetition, a return with a difference to one's way of going — yet this Way forges a new way that may look an awful lot like the old way but is fundamentally different.

What is this difference? While a way of going is an everyday state that distributes a body and its relationship to other bodies, a Way is an active attention to folding the infinite into the finite, the eternal into the temporal, the plane of pure immanence into a body. This is presumably what Zen offers in its many practices — the Zen of tea, the Zen of archery, the Zen of motorcycle maintenance, the Zen of calligraphy. These are all practices that transform ways of going — you making tea, you fixing your bike — into Ways of going as they summon, recognize, and realize the infinitude within the everyday.

To practice a Way is to become Kierkegaard's Knight of Faith who lives incognito, never declaring himself but simply, humbly going about his business — with his family, his work, his community. But in all his actions, he makes a double move: he steps from the finite to the infinite and back, over and over, as this temporal person takes on eternity: When around one everything has become silent, solemn as a clear, starlit night, when the soul comes to be alone in the whole world, then before one there appears, not an extraordinary human being, but the eternal power itself, then the heavens open, and the I chooses itself or, more correctly, receives itself. Then the personality receives the accolade of knighthood that ennobles it for an eternity. As Kierkegaard says, a Way does not make you extraordinary; that would just be a notable way of going. No, a Way is an opening into the infinite, the eternal, the power of life within this body here.

There are as many Ways as there are ways. In a relentless double gesture, irony speaks the finite and infinite at the same time, negating any pomposity or fixity of the everyday as it points to the infinite flux of all things. Irony, then, as a Way. (But it must be careful not to drift into nihilism, negation of the finite without embracing the infinite.)

Humor, too: humor plays in the flux of it all. If for irony, the finite and infinite are fundamentally incommensurable and hence demand a kind of double-speak, humor always already operates in the flow, everything always giving way to the eternal flux with the movement of a laugh. (But it must be careful not to become flippant; true humor is quite serious.)

Meditation is a common Way. You sit and do nothing and, there and then, open to the eternal now that lurks within you and around you. The trick, as Osho might say, is to keep that eternal now in every now, not just when sitting. (But you have to be careful not to become too careful: focus too much on your meditation and it becomes another way of going, an all-too-worldly state filled with self-judegment.)

Art as a Way: it seeks the pulse of the infinite within the material of this world — paint, color, light, image, fabric, bronze, paper, wood. After all, we know the difference between mere use of paint and the artist's use of paint. When I paint, my image remains firmly in this world, stuck in its materiality. Sure, there may be a flair here or there, a moment in which a line may traverse into a gesture of infinite becoming. But this is what the artist seeks in every gesture. This is not to say that she always succeeds. As DH Lawrence writes of Cézanne: "We can see what a fight it means, the escape from the domination of the ready-made mental concept, the mental consciousness stuffed full of clichés that intervene like a complete screen between us and life. It means a long, long fight, that will probably last for ever. But Cézanne did get as far as the apple. I can think of nobody else who has done anything." (All art risks cliché, DOA images.)

This is a beautiful description of a Way: it is the effort to overcome, to break through, the hegemony of ready-made life, to work towards finding the seething life, the eternal life, within everything. After all, our ways of going too often find themselves tethered to the shenanigans, the soul crushing banality, of the everyday, ignoring that this and that resonate infinitely. Why doesn't she text me back? Will this traffic ever end!? Will I get a good grade? A Way is a shifting of one's focus to the beating heart of life that lurks within the all-too-often deathly drone of one's way of going.

7.20.2018

Grammar Shmammar: Thoughts on Beginning with And and But


William Burroughs is one of the great grammarians.

Sometimes when I'm writing for others, I am met with a comment like this: "Uh, this is good but you begin your sentences with 'but'" — and then they try to change it. Needless to say, this is met in turn with most emphatic protest.

I taught composition at UC Berkeley for 15 years and watched student after student fret over beginning sentences with but. They'd all got As in high school — yes, I said got — writing with proper grammar — not splitting infinitives, not using fragments, and certainly not beginning sentences with but. This made my job difficult.

Teaching grammar teaches students that writing is a set of rules to be followed. Who wants to do that? Writing is not something you follow from the outside; it's something you inhabit from the inside. It's something you crawl into and kick around in (oh, and yes, I end sentences in prepositions). It's a put on. It's not where facts are expressed; it's where identities are created and recreated, over and over. I used to have my students write by adopting a persona — a haughty old man, a young hipster, it doesn't matter. What matters is finding a rhythm and timbre that flows, that moves, that carries ideas and facts and moods along.

What is grammar, anyway? Why this set of rules that someone laid down ages ago to be controlling and sell text books? It's downright odd. And, in the hands of the insecure educated, it becomes a weapon they wield with smug sanctimony. "You can't begin a sentence with but," they utter with disdain.

Oy! Where to even begin with such people? My quickest way out is to invoke my authority: "Well, I do have a PhD in Rhetoric and taught composition for 15 years at UC Berkeley...." This usually works. But I hate doing that as it keeps the discourse in the realm of sanctified grammar. When what I want to do is change the very way we think about grammar. To cop a line from Marshall McLuhan, grammar is not a set-in-stone set of rules: grammar is anything you can get away with.

Defenders of grammar offer a few arguments, most notably that grammar maintains meaning. And, yes, sometimes it does. For instance, when tracking multiple people, pronoun consistency is important — if you want to maintain strict meaning. Reading Kathy Acker when I was 21 was a revelation: she jettisons such consistency with abandon. The effect is delirious. So, yes, pronoun consistency is important if, say, you're writing a police report, giving instructions, or telling a classic narrative.

But language is not meaning alone. And clarity is not writing's sole purpose. Grammar, for the most part, imagines language and meaning generation are geometric: all the bodies need to be aligned in space just so.

Language, however, is temporal. It moves. Writing is movement; reading is movement. You quite literally — yes, I said literally — move. You move your head and eyes, yes, but you also move your thinking and your mood. Writing is not just the communication of information. It's the transmission of affect. And a bunch of other stuff, too, like the shaping of thought and the distributing of bodies. So to teach writing, we don't need to teach students to follow rules. We need to teach them how to move within language, to move as language.

All of this is to say, I often begin my sentences with but. And with and. But the two are quite different. In both cases, however, the reader is met first with connective tissue rather than content. That is to say, before there's some claim, before there are actors and actions, before there's something in particular to know — a fact, name, date — there's a connection, a relationship the content has to itself. In a word, there is thinking.

This is what I love about reading and writing: the connections between the claims. This is where the true action is, where life is. I don't read to learn this or that; I read to experience turns of thought, those therefores, buts, and that is to says that transform the very way I see the world. I read and write to have my world rearranged — not by a fact but by a relation to those facts. This is my pleasure.

But is my favorite because it announces: we're making a turn! Hold on! But tells you that while you may have been lead to believe something, things are about the change, get more complex, be qualified. When you read but you're already into a turn.

And is fun, too, as it declares continuity with what's come before — and then I can throw in something discontinuous, making the series of thoughts veer. And is slippery like that; it suggests everything is going along as expected and yet there is room in that conjunction, a space where difference can insinuate itself. After all, if there were no difference, there'd be no need for and; it would just be whatever it is. And announces something different coming your way. (Pace Deleuze's Difference and Repetition.)

I like not putting marks around my ands and buts in the previous paragraphs. Keeps readers on their toes. The goal of writing is not only to explain clearly; it's to afford pleasure in going differently. Grammar shmammar: I write not only to explicate but to indulge, to taste, to enjoy, to play, to move interestingly.

7.09.2018

The Luxury of the Infinite Gaze


When I was a kid, I loved looking at the sky. But I was never interested in seeing things — planets, stars, clusters. No, I wanted my gaze to keep going, never to focus, to let my eyes be drawn infinitely through the cosmos.

Like many kids, when I was young I thought a lot about space. But I wasn't interested in planets and stars. I wasn't even interested in super novas, black holes, and space ships which are all insanely cool. And despite the fact that my step father was an astronomer who took the first pictures of Venus — I shit you not — and so there were telescopes aplenty, I had no interest in using them. Telescopes are for seeing things — planets, moons, stars, perhaps constellations or even galaxies. But none of that interested me. I didn't want to see anything. I wanted my gaze never to end: I wanted to see the infinity of space.

Some kids learn the names of this or that — the Pleiades (although I love that name with all those vowels!); Saturn's gigantic moon, Titan; Halley's Comet (although to see such a screaming across the sky is at once exhilarating and humbling). But none of that piqued my interest at all (I still don't care about the names of things other than enjoying the name itself; to me, the name is another celestial body).

When I looked up, I wasn't looking for anything. I was looking for the unnameable: I was looking for that infinite horizon with a gaze that just keeps going. What I learned back then is what I'd learn again, once from Merleau-Ponty then again from Osho: if my gaze doesn't end, then I don't end. My very act of looking extends me across and through the silky cosmic body — entwining me, entwining with me.

Lying alone at night tucked into my safari sheets, I'd track the movement in my head from the bed outwards — past my ceiling and roof, past the trees, through the clouds, past the everyday blue sky and moon, past the sun and planets, past the stars. What I loved was that the movement didn't end; it had no point of focus. There was nothing to see; there was only the act of seeing, seeing a world that in the same breath reveals and recedes, carrying my skinny little body along, extending me Plastic Man-like into that delicious delirium, that point free of orientation where there's no up, down, or side to side, just me going, spreading, splaying, extending through it all. Oh man! I'd shudder with what I'll call a prepubescent orgasm. But it was more expansive than that. If I wanted to be fancy, I'd say it was feminine in that it kept going rather than climaxing. Years later, I'd read Hélène Cixous and find the word that hinted at what I'd experienced: jouissance.

Thinking about it right now gives me the shivers — shivers of a very special kind of ecstasy.   

I was always confused by what people meant by "outer space." I was eight and I knew that there was no inner or outer space. Sure, those terms have relative value to a fixed point. But when I'd think about going to outer space — into that infinite cosmic body — I'd realize I was already there. Earth is in outer space. Just thinking that when I was a kid — and today, too— makes my heart go pitter patter. I see the swift pan back as we zoom out and out, the earth receding into the distance, becoming a speck in the infinite folds of the universe and, yes and yes, it's exquisite.

Such is the way of infinity: there's no fixed point of orientation. The language of proximity is only relevant if, say, you're giving someone directions or launching a spacecraft. But for my purposes, the luxury of thinking about space is precisely that there's no directions to give and no spacecraft to launch — and hence no question of proximity. I'm just zooming along like the Pleiades, Titan, and Halley's Comet.

Merleau-Ponty says that to look is to palpate. This continues to blow my mind. All too often, we imagine seeing as an act at remove: I am here, it is there. But, for Merleau-Ponty, to see something is to touch it, to bring it to you at the same time that it brings you to it — what he calls an intertwining or chiasm. Seer and seen reverse positions at infinite speed until they are swirls of a marbling.

So what happens when I don't look at any one thing but look into space without focus? I am palpating the cosmos itself: I bring it to me and it brings me to it. We intertwine. But rather than just marbling in place, the limit of our marbling extends in every direction. This gaze then enacts an internal swirl and an infinite extension, a going and going both inside and out. 

This infinite gaze is a going without purpose, with no point of focus, nothing to buy or think, no people to meet, nothing to say. Indeed, for Osho, this space is a vacuum, emptiness itself: It is just the vacuum, he writes, the space in which objects can exist. The sky itself is just pure emptiness. Look into it. // What will happen? In emptiness, there is no object to be grasped by the senses. Because there is no object to be grasped, clung to, senses become futile. And if you are looking into the blue sky without thinking, without thinking, suddenly you will feel that everything has disappeared; there is nothing. In that disappearance you will become aware of yourself. Looking into this emptiness, you will become empty.

I know what he means. This gaze does seem to evacuate me of the bullshit that one accumulates through the course of this all-too-often absurd existence — the worries about whether she liked when I did that thing, the idiot client who won't pay me, that ache in my shoulder. But rather than seeing it as an emptying per se, I see it as a matter of spatial scale: when I gaze into the infinite, the infinite gazes into me and so the things that once loomed large are now so minuscule as to be forgotten. And, as for Osho, there is a serenity to be found.

But, for me, space is not emptiness. On the contrary, it is full. Or, rather, it is fullness itself. It is not the place in which things are suspended. It is the stuff that enfolds everything. I find space viscous, thick, luscious. And so while this infinite gaze does afford me the serenity of putting my worries in their place, it affords me something else: the decadent surrender to the flesh of the universe and the ensuing exhilaration of cosmic affirmation as it fills me, carries me along, wraps me in its inky embrace.

I want to say that this gaze that goes is life itself in as much as there is such a thing, what Deleuze right before his fatal plunge called pure immanence or a life. Not this life, not my life, not your life: a life.

In any case, for me, this infinite gaze abounds. The very act of looking infinitely is fecund. It's a gaze that roars and boils over. It fills me rather than emptying me. But rather than filling me with the tasks and noise of this world, indeed rather than filling me with the beauty of sun and flowers or the wonder of black holes and supernovas, it fills me with life itself. I stand here and look and am filled with the infinite richness, the luscious thickness, of space, of the cosmos: of life itself. And what, I ask you, is more luxurious than that?