Aphorisms
Essays
About

Taxonomy of Disorder
North American Review, 299.1, Winter 2014

The universe is unraveling by the hour.

open quote I studied entropy in college, but homeownership has clothed the naked concept and catapulted it into my daily consciousness. I cannot trip on a crooked floorboard or pry open a warped door without seeing my home as a lab of the laws of physics. close quote

I Am Not This Body
The New York Times, May 6, 2013

Beneath the intelligible there is only the unintelligent.

open quote Whenever I get sick or injured, I am dismayed to discover how little control I have of my life. Because someone sneezed a germ too small to see into my bloodstream, my universe shrinks to a pillow and sheets. My relation to my body resembles a privy council's relation to an adolescent king. I am thoughtful and wise and know best what to do, but my capricious body possesses the power and final authority, and I must tiptoe round its whims. close quote

Odyssey of Desire
Pleiades, vol. 33.1, Winter 2013

The search for soul's gold leads to the paradoxical disappointment of getting what one wants.

open quote What is the X we always imagine but never discover in things we desire? Dissecting my desires, I cannot tell what that unknown something is. I only postulate its existence negatively, by subtracting the reality from the expectation and finding a lack, like a chemist who knows something evaporated because the products weigh less than the reactants. close quote

A Sense of All Sorrows
Pleiades, vol. 32.2, Summer 2012

A survey of history prompts the conviction that mortality exonerates immorality.

open quote The persistence of utopianism despite so many centuries without a utopia reveals a poignant conundrum. The world is getting no better, but that cannot quell the hope of a perfect society, for hope is born of unhappiness, and the world is getting no better. What refutes the dream, sustains it. close quote

The Communion of Strangers
The Sun, vol. 436, April 2012

A study of others reveals the self as a mosaic of otherness.

open quote In high school history classes, I never thought about history having actually happened around living people. The War of the Roses and French Revolution were not tumultuous events that shook and took lives, but lessons in textbooks I must memorize for quizzes. Considering the victims of Bubonic plague died six hundred years ago, being dead seemed their essence, and I forgot they faced their impending destruction like I will, hearts pounding, having only known life. close quote

Meditation During a Rainstorm
Connecticut Review, 32.2, Fall 2010

A gray, rainy evening yields the comforting thought that life keeps its promises when it makes none.

open quote Though somber at funerals, I have felt a more stinging sadness sometimes at weddings. Into my mind, uninvited, enters the thought that all this champagne and merriment must end, that in a hundred years not a reveler in the room will be above ground. The thought of death enters such vibrant scenes as the greatest contradiction, a fate one feels is impossible yet knows is inevitable. close quote

A Visit to the City
The Redwood Coast Review, 12.2, 2010

A trip to San Francisco reveals the city as an enclave of order within the rough lap of nature.

open quote This was the world as the human mind had willed it to be, conceived it then created it according to its Euclidean desires. It was a world in which nature had no place and no right to be, except where expressly invited by sovereign man. Thus the only green I saw was the small trees planted along the streets, evenly spaced and neatly pruned, their tangle of roots invisible beneath the ground, their trunks disappearing through encircling iron grates. close quote

Confessions of a Carnivore
North American Review, 294.5, September-October 2009

The necessary sin of eating produces tension between the mind's prudery and the body's savagery.

open quote Food is not merely the fuel we put in our body, food is our body. Every atom in this moving breathing edifice called me was looted from other existences, through the food that I, or while I was in the womb my mother, ate. My living tissues are compacted of bits of the dead, my muscles were once cows' muscles, my eyeballs were carrots. close quote

In Praise of Passion
The Dalhousie Review, 89.3, Autumn 2009

Recollections and reflections on poetry, beauty, music, eloquence, and the conquests of great individuals attest the potency of passion.

open quote When I listen to music, I wonder why I bother to write. If art should impassion, then music is art, and all other arts are music's understudies. Poems and paintings must go through the brain, using thoughts to stir feelings, but music has a backstage pass to the soul. Most cultures' mythologies have given music a divine origin, and what modern headphone-listener could wonder why? How else could arrangements of vibrating air dissolve us into ecstasy? close quote

On Being Nothing
The Antioch Review, 67.2, Spring 2009

On dealing with the discovery that the world does not know your name nor wishes to learn it.

open quote In our universal mutual oblivion of each other, fame is a fool's pursuit—but there are many fools. Point a television camera at any sport spectator, and he will gasp and grin and furiously wave, delighted to have his image transmitted to so many retinas. Yet since no one heeds a stranger's face on television, it being a common sight, only his friends who are watching notice him—the very people whose notice does not make him famous. close quote

Night Thoughts
The Tusculum Review, vol. 4, 2008

An account of waking at night to a bedroom, a body, and a life that have lost their familiarity.

open quote Night thoughts, I imagine, offer a glimpse into the lunatic's world. For the lunatic sees a single fact or object with such utter lucidity, but also with such utter myopia, that it assumes a false appearance—false, at least, in the judgment of common sense. close quote

The Electric Present
Rock & Sling: A Journal of Literature, Art, and Faith, 4.2, Winter 2007

A morning beach walk in the Pacific Northwest leads to the realization that there is no such thing as an ordinary day.

open quote But if not mine, whose world have I stumbled into? Did God abandon creation to me? Did blind chance splatter matter into this miracle? I'd unfurl the flowers' petals and uncoil their stems to know, for they seem like signs, but no signatures are engraved within, not in characters I can read. close quote

The Lonely Race
The Laurel Review, 41.2, Summer 2007

A reflection on the earth as life's home amid a universe of nothingness.

open quote By day we are residents of towns and states and countries, but night reveals a different citizenship. Gazing up through the world's open roof at the worlds beyond, with awe and uncertainty we confess ourselves inhabitants of infinity. close quote

The Finite Experience of Infinite Life
The Hudson Review, 58.1, Spring 2005

The vastness and variety of California stirs a desire to grasp the whole of life in a single experience.

open quote This whole wide earth is a great Diaspora of beauty, and there is no way to see that beauty unless we travel to it. To stand still is to miss out on life. The reason of my discontent was not that I never found a place worth staying, but that I always saw another place worth going. close quote

Essays

  • Taxonomy of Disorder
  • I Am Not This Body
  • Odyssey of Desire
  • A Sense of All Sorrows
  • The Communion of Strangers
  • Meditation During a Rainstorm
  • A Visit to the City
  • Confessions of a Carnivore
  • In Praise of Passion
  • On Being Nothing
  • Night Thoughts
  • The Electric Present
  • The Lonely Race
  • The Finite Experience of Infinite Life