Hospitality in actu: A search term poem

First Digression

Last night I dreamed I was surfing idly on the internet. Pretty quickly things got dicey. When I entered search terms or a URL into Google Chrome, I was immediately re-directed to a page of ads. “No,” I thought. “This can’t be right.”

No, that’s not quite it. It was rather that “andrewjtaggart.com” did not lead me to my cozy little home, but the name had been thieved and I was held hostage by a wall of ads and text. That page, filled with noise and fuzz, was andrewjtaggart.com.

I thought, “So this is Hell 2.0.” I thought, “So, this is how people experience this site.”

 Second Digression

I glanced at my Dashboard this morning and noticed that someone had searched “resume cv professor andrew taggart.” If you’ve been reading my work long enough, then I hope you’ll laugh at the whole string of characters. (Well, perhaps, the Christian name “Andrew” is not that funny but I digress.)

Preface

The poem below is stitched together from search terms that brought some readers to my website over the past couple days. I fear they came away empty-handed. I hear they are demanding their money back.

The purpose of my modest literary experiment is to see whether, in this threadbare tapestry, this withered linen cloth, I can glimpse something of the diversity of human experience; whether I can enact compassion in the enmeshing; whether I can take the dangerous, the rather dangerous and lewd desires alluded to, and hold them up so tenderly; and, most of all, whether I can let in the vulgar, let in the guttural and raise it up too, allowing it to realize its essence in a higher form. Just as knuckles plead to be wrists, so lust sings to be love.

I do not say that the poem is good. I say only that the poem is right-spirited. Let us say: its heart is in the right place.

A.

 
1
 
knuckles feet wrists
arrogant steps
 
2
 
scenes:
touching breasts
touching lovers breasts
lovers touching breasts
 
3
 
scene:
breast touching
breasts touching
breasts touching before
marriage
lovers breasts touching
marriage
lovers breaths touching marriage
 
4
 
rumi
stillness
integrity, integritas
 

Further Reading

I take this to be one example of spiritual exercise (ascesis). The curious reader may learn more about ascesis over here. Scroll down about halfway and, while you’re at it, why don’t you be a good sport and grab the tissue on the floor at your feet.

Friday meditation: On the alchemy of reconceptualization

Fine phrase this. So what’s this (he consults his piece of paper) ‘alchemy of reconceptualization,’ as you call it?

It’s an ongoing process of making sense of one’s life. It involves surveying the parts of your past and transforming the self. Bear in mind that it’s not a one-off, and yet there are rest stops along the way.

And what is to be gained for the practitioner of this bewitched alchemical art? 

Quite a lot, I should think. To begin with, the practitioner learns how to ‘sit pretty’ with the past. She neither regrets (an excess) nor forgets (a defect). She somehow finds the mean between regretting and forgetting. Second of all, she is learning how to put her life in order. Practicing alchemy is all about putting her feet–one foot, two foot–back on the ground.

You’ve been talking pretty abstractly. But how does one actually do this? 

I won’t say that it’s paint by numbers, but I would say that there are exercises you can do. The first exercise might be termed “inventorying”: you inventory your past in order to draw up an account of your powers, potent experiences, and capacities. The second exercise could be called “salvaging.” You take in hand those powers that are useful and workable and leave behind those that are neither. Salvaging entails holding onto the right things and letting go of the rest. I take it salvaging is also, and finally, a gathering together and setting before you of just those workable powers.

This leads me to the last exercise: the magic of transformation. It’s not clear to me how this happens or the degree to which we can make it happen, and yet it does happen. By “this,” I mean the axial turn given to these workable powers, the unification, the harmonization, the enchantment of the salvaged past–in a word, the re-conceptualization of oneself. The past is turned to use and is somehow reborn as something other–something other without losing the trace of the past. It feels like magic. (This feels like magic, the end of a 10 year odyssey: “I’m a philosopher. I put lives in order.”)

I’m still skeptical, but I like the idea. It sounds… attractive, so I’m willing to give it a try. Shall we?

Yes, let’s. Do you see the crook in my arm? Just loop yours through like so… and away we go.