Silent Prayer

After writing two books—the first on philosophy, the second a collection of poetry—I see my writing in a new light. I am a better philosopher than a poet, and this is fine because I write always with the spirit of a poet. Blogs, emails, research papers. Even grocery lists.

I’m writing this now because I want to say what I truly am: a reader.

Yesterday my mother and I visited my father’s grave. She brought a book of prayers that bring her comfort. She insisted I read a prayer out loud, and I did because we both needed to hear it.

Afterwards my mother paused and turned to me. “You have always been a great reader, even as a child.” I took her at her word and said a silent prayer. At night I read a little Baudrillard and thought of this blog and the books I have written and the things I still want to say.

Have I ever written a word without reading it to myself first? Am I not my ideal reader?

A great writer is a patient reader who knows when to pause and see the world anew—not as it appears, but how it might have been, or how it will never come to be. A great writer erases him- or herself from the world word by word, offering a different version of events in which he or she has already disappeared, or never arrived.

Socrates, as envisioned by Plato, said philosophy is a preparation for death. Socrates wrote nothing down. He couldn’t see for himself that writing, too, is a preparation for death—that writing about the departed brings us closer to death.

Two interpretations among many: I went to read a prayer in a cemetery, but there was no sign of my father. Or it wasn’t clear I had read a prayer in a cemetery until I blogged about it here. All that remains of my father is a sign.

Until I die I will write, but not before reading every word back to myself—not to ensure clarity, but to suspend meaning, to render the world more enigmatic for those I’ll leave behind.

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Death By A Thousand Eternities

“Without the threat of death there’s no reason to live at all.” –Brian Warner

We are told to exercise, to improve the quality of our lives, to above all be happy. We buy a Fitbit. It counts our steps, checks our vitals, monitors our sleep cycles. Measuring, labeling, categorizing—our Fitbit is as a body sensor and a mind censor. A census-taker of souls.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves: the final goal of science and technology is to exterminate death. It may take forever, but future generations of scientists will risk their lives to get dying under control.

Are we not heading towards a man-made eternity without God? Are we not destined to create a permanent Heaven on Earth that would put to rest all hope of an afterlife?

Thanks to technology we’ve forgotten how to die.

We must resist the consumerist imperative to buy ourselves more time at all costs. Embrace death. Let it come for us, naturally or accidentally, as a devastating act of mercy. A blessing in demise.

To kill death with technological precision—to be forced to live with ourselves forever—this is Hell Unending. Death by a thousand eternities.

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Final Fantasy

On February 23, 2008, close to 200 volunteers flushed, at coordinated intervals, every toilet and urinal at newly built Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., to ensure the pipes could handle the load.

Imagine a moment when everyone in the world with a cellphone sent each other a smiley face emoji at the same time—not to test the limits of all the networks, just for shits and giggles. Put yourself in that micro-second between everyone hitting send in unison and the possibility that no one would remain on the planet afterwards to respond. Are we not right now suspended between the fantasy of synchronized global suicide and its fulfillment via technology?

Humans are all equal before the Law of Communication. We’re compelled to send and receive information—useless information. In fact the more useless, the better. Just do it. Just speak.

Technology actualizes every possibility. If our ultimate wish is to destroy reality, technology will make it happen.

The most efficient way to eliminate reality is to realize every fantasy. Realizing every fantasy, however, destroys the symbolic power of fantasy itself. We’re left with a literal translation of every metaphor, a logical explanation for every random thought. No more latent content to our dreams–every secret must be dragged out of our minds like a false confession and streamed “as is” in real time. Data infestations, digital plagues: such is our new manifest destiny.

The most radical message left for us is to say nothing at all.

Until then imagine a moment when everyone on the planet with a cellphone refused, at the same time, to send a text. Or a moment when everyone on the planet flushed a cellphone down a toilet. Dream up a fantasy so spectacular it threatens to end the world and then, for the sake of fantasy, make sure it never happens.

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So To Speak

I can’t write anymore. I hire an editor. She recommends a therapist.

I arrive at the front desk. I share a recent dream in which I tell a stranger nobody understands what I’m trying to say. The stranger agrees but this resolves nothing.

The receptionist says she’s not a therapist. She will be with me in a moment. I give her my number and a cup of water. She looks thirsty. I’m talking about the receptionist. I am told in no uncertain terms to keep my voice down.

I author a book from front to back in a waiting room. I quit dreaming.

I tell a stranger I’m vulnerable. I don’t recommend announcing this in a dark alley after midnight. Or on a first date if you’re into meeting people. A blog is fine. I’m done with books.

I am vulnerable. I write books nobody reads. Books nobody bothered to write but me. Nobody understands what I’m trying to write. Books aren’t blogs aren’t dreams. I fire my editor. This resolves nothing.

I enter a stranger’s dream and say nobody understands what it’s like to tell people on the internet you’re vulnerable. He’s angry with me. I bite my tongue. He throws his voice.

Books are for dummies.

I buy a book on Amazon. I date a receptionist.

Books are finished.

A stranger tells his therapist in my dream I don’t understand what I’m trying to say. I agree and this resolves everything. I decide to write cryptic blogs to throw off people on the internet.

I fuck my editor in a dark alley. She says I’m a bad writer. Repeat after me. I’m a bad rider.

I take back my book. Every word.

I write down everything I’m trying to say. I quit therapy because I’m too smart for this shit.

I am dumber than a blog post.

Somebody buys my book and it arrives by drone.

I am thirsty. An author waiting for my therapist tells me he can’t write any more.

I ask him to elaborate. This adds words to the universe. Words aren’t people aren’t drones. I see right through the universe. My book drops. Nobody picks it up.

A stranger will see me now. My therapist asks me to elaborate at the same time I ask her to elaborate. She doesn’t get paid to analyze dreams.

I ask my therapist for water. She gives me a voice. I’ve already got her number. So to speak.

She says I am valuable. Repeat after me. I am vulnerable.

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Buy Nervous Lethargy Now

Buy my second book here.

Thank you to everyone who supports my writing. This was a fun process. Here is the Amazon product description:

“Poetry is the language of language.” So writes Charles B. Snoad in the introduction to Nervous Lethargy, a collection of poetry obsessed with the power of words. Snoad asks difficult questions about the nature of truth, the existence of God, the joys and frustrations of desire and falling in love, and the persistence of anxiety in today’s technology-driven global society. The highly sensitive, self-aware speakers in these poems take readers on an existential journey through tragedy, hope, and longing—attuned to the beauty and absurdity of modern life. That feeling when your head spins so fast you can’t get out of bed—this is Nervous Lethargy.

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Nervous Lethargy: Second Proof

My proof copy of Nervous Lethargy arrived the other day. It looks great, but I did make some changes. A second proof copy should ship today. Hopefully, I can go live next week.

The low-resolution image I was worried about looks fine. The spine displays the title and my name fine. Many of the changes I made were minor: some words needed hyphens; a word originally written as two words is actually one. I made a few capitalization errors.

There were two big issues I’ve now fixed. First, a word on the back cover was misspelled. My bad. Second, I wasn’t thrilled with the original pagination. In the first proof I started the first page of the introduction as Page 13, because there are 12 pages of front material. Now the 12 pages of front material have Roman numerals and page one of the introduction is Page 1. Honestly, the pagination process occupied a lot of my time, mostly because I want things to look right, even though the previous format is not wrong, just less common than including Roman numerals.

I must have read the whole book a thousand times. I’m sure next month or a year from now I’ll find something I could’ve changed, but overall I’m proud of my effort. At some point I have to let the book go and trust that I’ve done my best. We’re now one big step closer to the release.

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Poet Try

Performance Anxiety

it’s hard to love
from a distance
to dot your thighs
uncross your knees

to put into words
only what a quiver
or curled toes
might say

to write without thinking
a poet sharper than me
makes you hum
at a higher frequency

c b snoad
3-27-17

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