Robert Kelly: An Alchemical Journal (8)


I’m me, that’s the point of it. I am at your disposal.

She was at the door, I know it, wrote her letter to me, sealed it in the wood of the door with a kiss, has gone away. We are at the disposal of everybody.

The books give different numbers for the phases of the Work. The books appear to contradict themselves. In such a welter, what can the Operator do but rise in the morning & survey the streets and fields. If his eyes are unusually clear, he may see a different number today. Tomorrow.

At times I wonder where our instructions begin. She did not wait long at my door. Time will have its own way with these matters.

And there are affectations we are not permitted. What a mouth full. The doghouse deteriorates in the dog’s absence. Some mornings I didnt even bother to look. Mortal Sin. She said I was very scary sometimes. Faster, faster this month full of moons.

Americans capitulate into matter. There is a different possibility: Al & Carola, their difficulties with cars & clocks & highways. If they speed, they will have an accident. When the wise men wished to portray longevity, they drew a carp, since that fish goes on living until someone kills it. One swims today in a monastery pond in Germany, I believe, & in its tail a dated metal tag was placed two hundred years ago. An old fish, but the greatness here is a species greatness. So the wisemen didn’t speak of Noah or Methuselah because those were gifted individuals; they drew a carp because carp after carp can do this, go on living. They direct our attention to the species possibilities of man. Which are thus specific possibilities.

Though each man does his own work, there are no individuals in the work. Or only one individual.

What do I know about it? Off in the trees, a horse’s full tail is waving & tossing, in & out of the sunlight.

So finally they were there all alone together on the boat. I think it was Long Island Sound. People seek identity in the strangest places, but these two were wiser, & sought only the wind on the water, the way the banks came down gently to eat. So much of life is lateral movement, she may have thought.

An eagle who has carried off a dog learns to know better. In the bones of his children, revenge replaces marrow. The generations of the work try to subdue us. Yet they are the Work. They must subdue us. Yet we struggle, successfully, not to be subdued. The old man goes on living without marrow or blood. This was called human sacrifice, or the slaughter of the holy know-nothings.

Homeopathy begins in lechery; (II faut chasser une passion par une autre) love-sickness cures itself in love. This morning a great inch-long insect, strong grasshopper legs, strong forearms doing work. From the tip of his face soared back two huge feeler plumes almost the length of his body, delicately curved, antelope horns, masks of Set, the typhonian animal no animal. The god ofyoga, torture, lechery & death was the first insect we see in the morning, hard at work. Sublime success. No blame.

The whole horse trots out of the woods, sun on his back. No blame.

“Diamond Crystal Kosher (Grobe) Zalts. Kosher le Pesach. 3funt net vag. Sprinkle… covering meat like a light blanket of snow. Inside, too, with poultry.” The snow. Inside. The fire next time. No blame.

A long time ago I made a list of persons & properties essential to the work. I found upon examination that it contained nothing but the names of women. Yet there is darker still. I write now &, ever from angelic informations. Angels who are informers. But the girls’ names ride like swans on the paper.

No sense of decorum, none at all. Of all things needful to the work, the Dwarf packed his bag of needments. Easements. K’un, woman upon woman, abide. I hear the organ, a follower of Sweelinck. When? When? Citius citius currite noctis equi. The true lover says. In all faces I have found dawn nowhere else.

From the dark of your distance, dark of your place inside me, I hear you tell there is no need to address you, you will hear the words, you will be curator of specific meaning.

From a magical manuscript: “The brethren (nor shall this term exclude women) or lovers of this order will wear gowns of unbleached muslin, fuller’s earth will have cleansed them enough, let them be wet, let the sun dry them. Upon the left breast let O mega be applied in red silk thread. Seldom will they wear their hoods, the hoods will rest on the nape to conceal the small cross, likewise in red silk, sewn over the nape nerve. In their cuffs let nothing be hidden except the book of the order & one simple cloth to wipe the brow of the dead with & so restore to life. Let no man see the staff.”

Omega express. Take the A train. Uptown, where the proasteioi do not come, but rule through untrustworthy angels, & benefic confusions arise.

Beaver in front of me, in metal replica, & I remember being told beavers need nothing to construct a lodge (we see it as a dam) but the materials & a suitable neck of water. The blueprint is the beaver himself, in a mystery we resolve without solving: the beaver does it by instinct. We say. What, if anything, do we make by instinct?

Faster faster run ye horses of the night into the availability of dawn, the form of the work perceived again. Seen. A heavy rain brought the temperature from 100° to 86° in a few minutes; it mattered. This is the hottest weather I’ve known in this place. The words are always the same.

First learning that books were, I found a book’s name, A lion is in the streets. This promising title concealed nonsense about some syphilitic French author. No lion. The child’s disillusionment is still with me, & reveals a perilous fact about the nature of literature, of metaphor. Bother with no writer who will not stand by his words, to death if necessary. Trust only the literalist. Take the words of Our Lord literally. Any Lord. This is a narrative in which the man with red beard appears, seems to foil his own work, stands in sight of the end. This is Mt. Nebo, mountain of prophecy. The ‘hill of dreams.’

Life is preparation for taking leave of the work.

Or her body, naked in moonlight, ready to receive.

It is at some point, not first or last, the healing of metals, curing the leprosy, of matter, restoring the elements to splendor. Syntax lends its magic (=substance). The things that are said that cannot (Aristotle) be thought. It is commonly the ‘words’ that are blamed, or ‘language.’ Yet language is the only system in which he truth is stated. Logos, or understanding what’s happening, or making things up.

Our brains are imperfectly filled, imperfectly ordered. Yet language (not ‘words’) is the plenum.

I fear only certain words. At night.

[… to be continued]


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