I. RAINBOW VORTEX OF THE ANIMATED BREATH
The Ancients, who believed in their dreams, believed in the meaning of their dreams, they did not believe in the forms they took. Behind their dreams and at varying levels, the Ancients sensed forces, and they immersed themselves in these forces. They had an overpowering sense of the presence of these forces, and they sought throughout their entire organism, if necessary by means of a real vertigo, the means of remaining in contact with the release of these forces.
– Antonin Artaud, “Man Against Destiny”
I think of myself, the poet sending signals into mystery, and having them return to me with oneiric wings and spirals, so much so, that I forget my prosaic locale with its stultifying anchors, with its familial dotage and image reports, with its dates inscribed in trapezoidal feces. I am only concerned with simultaneity and height, with rays of monomial kindling, guiding the neo-cortex through ravens, into the ecstasy of x-rays and blackness.
– Will Alexander, “On Anti-Biography”
Celestial fire modulates through neon fields and aches throughout the lathe of space, animated into dynamic magnetism and psychedelic constellations. Vision explodes through planetary energy as dimensions shift invisibly. Will Alexander is a phenomenal and singular poet, a poet who allows me to leave the abyss of pedestrian sensation and enter a state of mind that thrills me with his animated breath. Alexander is a celebrated surrealist, and the only poet I know of whose books often feature a glossary to decode his arcane terminology. Many of Alexander’s extraordinary poems are crafted as imaginative monologues spoken by surreal entities, such as “The Ice Lion” of “strange opposable masses,” or the title poem of The Sri Lankan Loxodrome, a seventy-page ecstatic monologue voiced by Loxodrome, a lone Sri Lankan who sails the Indian Ocean “telepathically luring poison” to his grasp, “whose commission is to de-poison sea snakes.” Alexander is familiar with writing through the lens of somebody else, and is wholly in tune with Rimbaud’s declaration that “I is someone else.” Like Rimbaud, he is committed to self-transformation, eager to witness his perception unfold to the otherworldly and the unknown: “[The Poet] exhausts all poisons in himself and keeps only their quintessences. Unspeakable torture where he needs all his faith, all his superhuman strength, where he becomes among all men the great patient, the great criminal, the one accursed – and the supreme Scholar! – Because he reaches the unknown!”
Alexander is often fiery and disorienting. He is writing through the interstitial winds of gravity, creating branches of superconductive astral magnetism. Clayton Eshleman has said “[Alexander’s] verbal flights strike me as more shamanistic than free-associational or automatic” and that his vocabulary “bridges poetry, philosophy, myth and science.” He is writing from the frontiers of human consciousness, a fearless psychonaut imbued with alien energy. Alexander intuitively uses language as a force relating to alchemy and mental travel – an interstellar rainbow vortex shielded with alien soma, bathed in the milk of Nepenthe, and shrouded in dazzling paroxysms. These are concussive thrusts to language, quaking and gyrating through an elemental amplification igniting a barrage of halos.
II. VISION AND THE UNKNOWN
In the present age one is taught to project one’s prayers to an outer void, into an ellipsoidal premise, which recants, which damages, which wipes out human advantage. For me, it incorporates an inner death. The arousal it purports seems unequal to the tension that it carries. One then reaches the brink of distorted mutation. One then condones as scripture selected parables of carrion. This I call life by utter harassment, by codes of vernacular weeping. Because of blindness, because of the breakage and rising of my mind, I’ve been occulted, I’ve been socially shunned and eviscerated. These are my steps. The feeling of being a tapir, a victim in the revolving diabolics of execution.
– Will Alexander, Diary As Sin
In Diary As Sin, the poet’s second novel, Alexander delves into the unknown and creates vision out of the impossible. The novel is presented as a taped confession – an ecstatic monologue narrated by Rosanna, a blind victim of incestuous rape who is speaking “from an emptiness escaping the gravity of compressed Suns.” Taking on “airs of the crucified,” she views her existence as an exception as she blurs her inner visions with reality, transcending and negating her life’s impossibility. Rosanna sees herself as “a radical absence, exercising worlds far beyond the grasp of the human spectrum.” Through her blindness comes a heightened element of combustion at her core. Imbibed by schizophrenic ether, she is lost in the labyrinth of her mind – an animistic mental plane where thought takes on dimensions of the imaginal. She is haunted by her absent alcoholic mother, Zomaya, and negates her traumatic family history with a vibrant inner life that blossoms in its fluidity.
Rosanna’s unknown essence is made known through disorientation. Rosanna has lived her entire life on the edge of the human experience. Blindness has induced her with crystalline thought patterns relating to things beyond definition that deal with the spirit. It’s as if her voice is a conduit into another dimension – allowing her to decode the stars and surrender to Aquarian energies. Alexander’s bejeweled prose navigates between two worlds, never wholly existing in either, exploding across the edge of Plutonian shadows. Abstraction becomes interactive, “a pulsation, a thirst, a mania.” When the fabric of thought is opened to the ecstatic experience, nothing remains but the energetic formlessness communing with the alien fabric.
Shaken by her vertical interiority, Rosanna’s visions and transformative ruminations accede to the primal. Her unspeakable trauma is more than a lens. It is a shapeless experiential equation relating to the voice: “Being blind, I continuously absorb the fractions of infinity which pour into sleep. This is my daily filtering. Taking on the deepening of listening in translucence, then entering an upward draft as an anti-neurological oasis. This is beyond the gross seduction of bodies, but with a charisma for the primal, for the mixture of lightning and carbon, knowing that I’ve parted a river of mirrors, that I’ve gotten to a realm where beasts cease to govern.” Diary As Sin details an inner communion of the tarnished self. Her visions are ubiquitous like a current of air. Rosanna is ruminating on becoming wide awake to a state that extends beyond average wakefulness. She is balancing between inner freedom of the spirit and the prolonged trauma of experience.
In Compression & Purity, his most recent poetry collection, Alexander wrote that biography is “a ruse, a phantasmic meandering, brighter or dimmer, according to the eclectic happenstance of terror.” In Diary As Sin, the rhythm of thought is magnetic to a vibrancy that is more accurate and resonant than the dull happenstance of a more ordinary recollection. Through Rosanna’s rabid shocks to her perception, the ecstatic onslaught of ethereal monads expound and disintegrate through nebulous expansions. Cataclysmic suns blaze through astrological apparatuses and amorphous verticality.
Alexander brings a flow of vitality, a feeling of renewal to language, where ghost tornadoes float like alien eagles through the energy labyrinth of a muscular mysticism. Vision disrupts vision through a generative solar force. Certain resonances dance to the shamanic wager festooned by otherworldly grace. Mesmerist osmosis is found in his crystalline prose. This tapestry expands through a radial matrix relating to the unknown. Diary As Sin is a phenomenal novel for those who wish to dream of different and less tangible realities. Its dizzying vertical nature exists in its own sphere – a separate sphere of language and inner light powered by ghost energies pulsating through orphic light. In surrendering to its shamanic eloquence, I found it reverent to the spirit of life.
Alexander, Will, http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Alexander-Will.php, reading and interview at the Incognito Lounge, Los Angeles, October 24, 1993.
Alexander, Will, Above the Human Nerve Domain (New York / Ohio: Pavement Saw Press, 1998), unpaged.
Alexander, Will, The Sri Lankan Loxodrome (New York: New Directions, 2009), page 25, 33.
Alexander, Will, Compression & Purity (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2011), page 63-4.
Alexander, Will, Diary As Sin (Great Britain: Skylight Press, 2011), quoted throughout.
Eshleman, Clayton, “Four Introductions,” Archaic Design (Boston, MA: Black Widow Press, 2007), page 174.
Rimbaud, Arthur, Complete Works, Selected Letters: A Bilingual Edition, trans. Wallace Fowlie (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), page 375-6.
Sontag, Susan, ed. Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings (Berkeley / Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), page 360.
Chris Moran is the author of Poison Vapors (Solar Luxuriance, 2011). He lives in Columbus, Ohio and blogs at http://subtlefields.blogspot.com/