Paul Tylor

New Digs

When the FOR SALE sign was hammered deep into the trimmed, front lawn of Miss Shimner’s house, the neighbors took notice. Miss Shimner had lived on the cul-de-sac longer than the others. She was not married, but very sociable, and very attractive. And everyone, especially the females of the couples living in the detached homes on either side of her, wondered why she was single.

The cul-de-sac formed a half-circle on an elevated ridge, and the Shimner house sat on the highest point. Her view, therefore, was the envy of the neighborhood. From her spacious kitchen she could see the wide, green, Funnell River, arch out to the east for a few miles before disappearing into the western countryside. And from her cozy living room she could see the Alice Mountains that rose just high enough to snag a few clouds now and then.

The loves of her life, neighbors agreed in gossipy discussions over their stockade, backyard fences, were her cats. She had six. All in-door types, never messing in anyone’s yard, never fighting in the middle of the night. They stayed in the house, doing the cat equivalent of “hanging out.” They slept most of the time, ate twice a day, and seemed to enjoy playing hide-and-seek with each other and with their baby-talking “mother.”

During the next two weeks, the slim, beautifully dressed blond, who had hammered the FOR SALE into the ground, showed the Shimner “Cat House,” the neighbors sometimes called it, to at least four excited, young couples. Each time she pulled up in front of the house in her white, four-door BMW, she was wearing a different outfit. One day, wearing gray slacks and a pale-green, sleeveless blouse, it was June, she struggled for a minute in an un-lady-like stance to yank the sign out of the ground.

The following Saturday, the Plunketts next door had a cook-out, honoring their beautiful, friendly neighbor, soon to be an ex-neighbor.

“I just decided I wanted a change,” Sally Shimner announced after a few sips of delicious Chianti Classico, “Look, I paid a hundred twenty-five thousand for my place, and I just sold it for twice that much. So, Alice, the drop-dead-gorgeous agent, bought me a tiny place on the Chesapeake Bay for half the profit I made on this deal.”

Her next sip of Chianti came at the end of a toast delivered by Frank Plunkett: “We will all miss our favorite MISS, especially we MISTERS. Sally has been a delight to know and the Chesapeake Bay will be a more delightful place as soon as she arrives on its sandy shores.”

It took the movers only two hours to relocate Sally’s furniture and her minimalist belongings from the brightness of her spotless home to the darkness of their musty truck.

And another two hours to drive to Chester View, the bayside community where her new home was located. “Twenty steps from the bay,” is what leggy Alice and smiling Sally had measured when they went down to look at the place, and as soon as she and the movers arrived, she paced the steps off again. I now, at last, have a place at the beach, she said to herself, and she added, the cats will love it. Listen to those birds singing. Boy, are my babies ever going to be happy.

“What the hell is Sally Shimner doing over there in her…old backyard,” Frank Plunklett asked his wife Marsha. They both peeked out the side window. There was Sally just one day after they had waved good-bye to her, digging something up from the yard with a little, shiny shovel, and dropping whatever it was into a paper bag.

“Probably tulip bulbs,” Marsha said, crossing her arms and patting her husband on the back, as he leaned closer to the window, trying to get a better look at his good-looking ex-neighbor.

“Let’s go find out firsthand,” Marsha suggested. “I mean, maybe she could use some help. You know, now that she’s no longer a neighbor, I just might ask her why she never married.”

They left their house and walked slowly over to Sally, who was bending over on the slope of the side yard.

“Well, hello stranger. Longtime no see,” Frank said, extending his hand in handshake fashion.”

“Oh, hi. Hi, Marsh. It has been a long time hasn’t it,” she laughed, and wiped her hands off on the side of her tan Burmudas. “I’ve got a map I want to give you. I drew it myself. You have GOT to come down to the bay to see my new, cute place. Screened-in porch, awnings, great view of the Chesapeake. I’ll get it for you in a few minutes. As soon as I’m finished here.”

Frank asked, “Want some help?”

“No, thank you anyway. I’ve only got three more to go and I’m done.”

“Three more what, Sally,” Marsha asked. “Gold nuggets…?”

Sally smiled and replied, “No, no…not nuggets…cats…I’m digging up my cats. I’ve already dug up Whiskers, Bobcat, String Along, Shy Boy, and Peekaboo. I’m almost finished with Ashes, my beautiful gray, and as soon as I get Sand Paper, named for his rough tongue, and Shadow, my black beauty, I’ll get…”

“Sally,” Marsha asked more bluntly than she would have if Sally were still a neighbor, “what in the hell are you talking about? All those cats are dead and have been for a long…’

“Wrong, Marsh, wrong. They are not dead, my friend. They have been asleep. Dr. Montgomery put them to sleep. If you don’t believe me, call her and ask her. She’s up at Cats and Dogs on Ohio Boulevard…you know…the short brunette…don’t you take Skippy to her…?”

Patrick McCauley

Three poems


In the middle of red light Amsterdam
Flashing knives, bicycling Amsterdam
Rain dripping, crowd pissing
Herring roll Amsterdam.
In the graffittisteegs
Of old dutch shoe Amsterdam.
In the gracelace of sexy
Beautiful full liped Amsterdam.
In Van Gogh one eared explosions
In sunflower sanity Amsterdam.
In the silk blonde narrow streets
Of Amsterdam.
In the Gaugin flowers of Amsterdam
In the factory walled unemployed of Amsterdam
In those who travel to Amsterdam to die.
In the smaked out needle tipped AIDS of Amsterdam.
In the bubbled rolling pings
Of old Dutch women laughing.
In the slow roar of the moving wave
In an orange soccer stadium.
In Amsterdam in september
I want to paint with thick small words
A whorling Van Gogh poem.
Golden fields of spinning light.
Empty streets in the early morning.
A flat calm canal.
Ducks in the moon.
Spinning Amsterdam.
Drunk singing Amsterdam.
Stoned Amsterdam.
Foggy Amsterdam.
Iced Amsterdam.
Dogs Amsterdam.
Skating Amsterdam.
Come one, come all Amsterdam.
Equity Amsterdam.
Quiet growl of viscious Amsterdam.
Cruel Amsterdam.
The dead of Amsterdam.
Anna Frank Amsterdam.
The old lady biting her tongue,
Like on old cow chewing her cud,
In the tramstop,
Counting her money,
And just enough to get home,
Chewing her cud with happiness Amsterdam.
The walk of Amsterdam.
The clothes of Amsterdam.
The tongue clicking ladies of Amsterdam.
The supermarket was a medievil jail.
The strong coffee, strong cake, strong stuff of Amsterdam.
The carpets on the restaurant tables in Amsterdam.
Hopscotch with the dog turds.
‘The Anatomical Lesson Of Dr Joan Deyman’ Amsterdam.
The middle aged faces of the middle ages,
So holy, so noble, so pure.
Rembrandt Amsterdam.
So chubby faced, so bruised, so civilized Amsterdam.
So animal in human clothes.
So beautiful Amsterdam.
So soothed Amsterdam.
So sunken Amsterdam.
So moated city in circles from the middle ages.
A stone dropped in the pond of Europe.
I tip my hat and say gidday,
And by the future,
It’s good to meet you.


He had the entire war
Tattooed all over his face.
A zeplin on each cheek
Gravestones all over his upper lip
Tanks, trenches, guns and war words
Tattooed over every inch of his face.
He had barbed wire on his eyelids
And guns on his ears.
But she,
She was a field,
A paddock,
A fertile, turned piece of ground.
Wet and warm beneath the sun.
Waiting for wild seed to blow over her.
Waiting for her sods to be turned.
Waiting to envelop the dead.
To bear them up,
To bury them down.

Bertholt Brecht And A Single Red Geranium.

It was the hundredth anniversary
Of the birth of Bertholt Brecht.
The last of the Pram Factory bohemians
Had gathered the remains of their collective memories,
To read his poems beside theirs
From rostrums splattered with the shadows
Of the evil city.
In Gertrude St, above some tramwires,
A single red geranium flowered in the night breeze.
What is the connection ? I thought and did not know,
Except that I knew that this was no accident.
Who else wrote the great plays and poems
Of Brecht beside old Bertholt himself ?
Who else was it who planted his genius ?
Who suffered with him ?
Who quivered in the glow of his recognition
as a true leftie ?
Whose poems did he read one night beside his
Celebrating their genius a century after their death ?
Is this the Socialist afterlife ?
A present filled remembering the deeds of past heros
Who were, nevertheless, one leged soldiers
Fighting for two leged kings.
Old opium for new masses.
Same future.
A single red geranium.

Maree Jaeger

Some Poems

Little Pulses (for Chris)

The slow eclipse of evening
gives itself over in surrender.

As we walk, the trees have never looked taller
or whiter, or more fragile or so strong.

The kiss of moss, warm and earthy
between lips
entwining the web and wood in us.

Above; spaces,
air pockets for emotions to float between
mouth to mouth rescucitation
mouth to mouth
hand over hand
covering over unspoken gaps.

My words are skimming stones
little pulses.


Twenty one floors up
voices rise from below
there is a lot of red
sitting on the window ledge
watching the people
snake their way
like an army
around the street
clutching megaphones
colours change
and move
on the screen
people stand with guns
in the street
and are locked.

We are all watching
each other
with our eyes shut.


art is fact.

Long ago near the Blue Mountains
the man asked of another
“Would you be interested in six baby skeletons
wrapped in bark?”

Six dark baby skeletons
wrapped in bark.
Fully cocooned,
ready to sail upstream
or ready to pupate.


The six baby skeletons;
were not to fly, were not to sail.

Bare hands cut fresh diamond universe.

De cased, re cased
behind glass
as a remnant
as an artifact.

Duane Locke




If you should ask me how I have spent my life,

I would hesitate to answer,

Then would answer:

Among a thousand swans on the Dike Road in Holland,

Alone among Viennese waltzes from CD’s.

I would pause and say I only mentioned the happy moments.

I did not mentioned my teaching at a university

Where every colleague and student was an assassin.

I did not mention my life sitting on bar stools

Where the ugly moments disguised themselves as Chinese dogs

And jumped into my lap.

I don’t know why I give these answers,

I don’t even know why I answer,

For no one really cares to listen to my answers.





Mainly, when the moon trembles like a fragile fern,

I think what I left behind in Italy,

In a small hilltop, walled town.

I can

Still hear

The color of tears at the Milano airport, Malpensa.

David Wright

Poetry from Illinois



“What you come to love will surprise you,” said,
my father straightening my bow tie. “I
need to go to your mother.” His bent head
brushed my cheek, his lips grazing slightly my
forehead and eyes. In the pictures, he smiles
with my bride and his, with his mother, arm
comfortable and sure for this short while,
round what he loved, safe beyond the world’s harm
and his own charm or anger. What I love,
and come to love, my wife’s just fury, Dad’s
longing, Mom’s maddening strength and lack of
ire, my grief, palpable as his wild, sad
words on my skin. These don’t surprise me. I
surprise them, turn, return and meet their eyes.


After an hour or two, you might worry,
certain I will call and reassure you
I’m driving home. You will say, “No hurry,”
and I will speed, glad to know that these few
miles of interstate are the sole distance
stretched between us. I see you busying
yourself paying bills, taking this night’s chance
to watch a film I’d hate. High, dizzying
constellations I cannot name bless the bright
black sky without trying; their age old light
so unconcerned with its slow travel. Space
takes up space. The phone sits silent. Our face
contorts with fear and fury, already lost
when I arrive, with galaxies to cross.


With our child at Sunday School, we act young,
or younger than we feel. Sly jokes, soft touch
of fingertips on cheek or breast, your tongue
curling a seductive twist, not too much
because this coffee house is public. Part
of the lust is risk, the chance someone will
see; someone we know, or don’t, might just start
to hear us plan an afternoon of still
unrehearsed, untried adventure without
haste. I whisper, hushed but good as a shout,
my hope for you to reach a place of rest,
a Sabbath prayer of the flesh that our best
hour lies ahead. We check time and leave
to fetch our child. She’s learning to believe.


To pay attention constantly without
swerving from a single glance or sore word
was all I asked. To never really doubt
the value of an instant, each uttered
syllable or joke. Go ahead and laugh,
again. You lasted a year and a half
into this demand for constant presence,
sustained the effort until the nonsense
I’ve learned from parents, television, friends
who stayed always on like suns or moons, blends
of light that lurk high and constant, had drowned
whatever will to love without complaint
you’d saved. Rest now, I say, without a faint
worry. Both worn to peace, we must lie down.


Sunday Afternoon in the Universe

Your Grandmother’s bones are turning to powder. After ninety
years, they become unreliable and strand her in a bed she
wants to leave. One way or another she will leave her bed,

with old or resurrected bones. My God, she lies, restless,
miles away, and we make love with shades drawn,
television loud enough to keep our small child

from hearing wonders and tragedies, to keep her
from waking too soon. She rests. She grows her
body’s own way. I want to tell someone who needs

to hear how our bodies, these flawed, fair bodies might come
together on Sunday afternoons, even when other bodies fail.
How strong and fragile human bones and skin

and breath make us, leave us. I would tell you,
but you know better than to believe me. I should make
the words for another woman, a man, a girl, a boy.

Perhaps they have forgotten or not yet found their form
is not theirs. It belongs to universes of cells, of blood,
of oxygen, of stars, of dust, of molecules like galaxies,

of galaxies like molecules that swirl and mingle to save
and kill, love and forget, find and lose us, suddenly,
in our own or others’ bodies, on Sunday afternoons.

Album Williams


They broke each finger one by one
and never did he complain.
Just went about his business
nearly fifty graves a year
he dug for the shire’s rich and poor.

Stood back (sniggering)
as a corpse went into his hold.
Depending on the person he’d spit
n’ sometimes piss upon the coffin,
other times he’d cry and pour back
the dirt grain by grain,
wishing she hadn’t died.

But nowadays they burn the corpses,
especially the young.
Some don’t even fear God –
he could tell by the service.
Relatives bleat and moan bout
this and that
but the bastards leave him without a
as Joey or Jill or Billy or Blake
are cooked inside an oven
then scattered:
“on a favourite headland”
“over the tomato patch”
“out to sea”
“Daintree National Park – Billy
loved the wilderness”.

Billy can live what he damn likes,
but this guvment worker will tell ya –
no more honest way to be put to sleep
than in a bloody hole.

cremation annoys the gravedigger,
who now, he tells me,
is gunna help business along a little.



I bought a bitta ocean home
bought it home
it came in me nose.

That bitta ocean came home
in me nose
and some was also in me ear.

I leaned over to kiss me Mum hello
and that bitta ocean dribbled,
leaked outa me nose onto Mum’s chin.

I sat down to watch sum tele
watch television when
half asleep a dribble o’ ocean left me

That ocean soaked
me Mum’s favourite cushions
“Why go surfing” she said “and bring
home half the ocean?”
“I dunno,” I said
licking salty water offa me top lip
drinking, I woz, a dribble o’ Pacific

Later at tea, during Scrabble
brushing me teeth, patting the cat
feeding the dog, arguing wiv Dad

One and all gotta splash o’ ocean
the ocean that happened today
today to follow me home –

in me nose, me ears
to flood
the family, upholstery.



Seventeen little Aussie battlers
none yet a week old
holidaying for the first time
a Sydney summer
not unlike Cootamundra.

Sat butt naked in the sun
the morning on their bellies
the arvo on their bums
looking up
into the sun
a Sydney summer sun.

Over drops a clubby
“are youse having fun?”
disturbed at what he sees
he runs back to his shift
leaving little Aussie Caucasian babies
to enjoy their holiday.

Seventeen little babies
not at once
began to pop
little blisters each one
lightly spraying Bronte beach
to the “oohs” and “aahs” o’ bystanders.

Seventeen little babies went pop
in the sun
and later that evening
at the breath of cool
a man in brown overalls
came to collect their skins
bright red, with a shovel
he notes they’re very dry.

Skins the size of matchboxes
he takes them up to Paddo
a nice shop
seventeen bucks the lot.



Approval seeks the employee.
perhaps its just a glance,
a nod, a smile of encouragement.

For a job well done
deserves some tick
a thumbs – up from the Boss.

But the Boss is angry:
“Youse sit here all day
ya bums pointing downward
and this business is getting nowhere.”


“Damn it, I beat the boards
and rack my brains
to make this shop a goer.”

Hmmm. We huddle together, fearing
and the Boss comes back later:
“And youse, youse chooks
you sit here and eat my formula
scientific millet
expensive Darling River water
and what do I get?
I’ll tell you what I get –
backache and a miserable cheque from
the tight arsed egg board.”

One hen clucks.
She be no learned agitator.
Yet if she could speak
on behalf of her sisters
she would up and say:

“Small business this may be here
my friend
but have a bloody smell.
This compound this
is frying us
God knows when it will end.”

She’d say later:

“Miserable cheque or no
dear fella,
Time has come for something said.
Have a look inside these cages, boy,
and you’ll see
what these hens
wish they had in mind
for you
your egg board
your family
and friends.”

That hen was the cluck of
and no remembers nothing.
’Cept she must not ever think aloud
– instead scratch, best she can
– scientific millet
– Darling River water.



Four litres of bad wine later he is in bed, waking within moments – a vinegar mouth, gridlock sinuses, eyes stinging psoriasis. A trickle of half – baked wax looses from his blocked memory cavity and – “pop” – as if dreaming or drunk – his dead wife appears anxiously toying with the idea of sitting on his bed.
“Sit down lover,” he gestures and she does as asked.
She returns his smile and brushes her hand across his feverish chest, hair and sweat now matted.
“… And why would I be unhappy?” he asks, sensing her displacement, her culture shock.
The wife slides her hand across her husband’s head, behind the ear and against the whirl, over the balding, across the …
“Fell out of a taxi,” is his excuse for the cut.
She gently touches the three day old blood – cum – scab and recoils slightly at the sight of the yellow.
“It’s the yellow, isn’t it?” he asks.
The wife now knows the reason for her unexpected visit, plucked from warm waters and foam to be again in the stale familiarity of this onion peel closet – her widower’s bedroom. Her husband is yellow.
Like her before, his hepatic-portal is locked stale hard, the tide in his abdomen is rising angrily against the rock in the bladder. Unable to right itself or erode, the blockage defies all natural defences and the impotent jack hammering of a local practitioner. So the wife slides away through the everything; leaving him waking up to blood and bone, a decrepit septum failing in the night. (So he thinks, but not a simple bleeding nose.)
“And what about that dream?” such is his recollection, touching the folds between the ribs on his milkless chest.

Lest We Forget


September 11, 2001

Three giant birds: Heronasaurus Rex,
Confused and made blind by ambition,
Crashed headfirst into sturdy trees,

Up in which lots of happy children played
In tree huts they all had made by hand.
A fourth bird dove into a field.

All these crashes were so unimpeded
That the birds’ bodies turned inside out;
Their pink, tubular innards bared;

And their classic shapes so badly damaged,
Not even the day’s buzzards knew them.
And all the precious kids were killed.

Their familiar huts were disassembled,
Their confused parents will cry forever,
Wondering how well-made huts failed.

The ornithologists and bird-watchers
Frowned and shook their heads in disbelief,
Vowing to find out someday, “Why?”

Walter Hoelbling september 11


of hollywood nightmares
suddenly come true

a spectacular scenario
ruthlessly stages
destruction and death
in real life

televised globally
in brilliant colors
nauseating replay

the jetliner
slamming into the tower
smoke fire debris collapse
suffocating clouds of dust
the smoldering rubble
five stories high
that was the world trade center
the unquenchable fire
at the pentagon
the hole in the ground
in a forest near pittsburgh

those who can
cry out in horror
and flee the scene

tens of thousands die
in unheard agony

their silences
echo around the world

chilling monuments
to the potential of humankind
to wreak havoc
in cold blood

once again
we become aware
that peace
more than hard

Martha Cinader The First War

Friday, September 14, 2001

We tread today the sacred ground
of the ancestors of this land
asking not what have we done
hearing not the bell which has tolled
but the endless grinding of a machine.

’Til now.

And now it rings beyond control;
its message beyond meaning,
its mold beyond repair.

Those who know intimately the story
will try to write the end;
preaching fire and destruction,
blaming the voiceless,
exhorting our basest instincts to rise.

But we walk among astral figures
entreating us to listen
to the piercing tones of love
shattering the void

to share our dinner with a hungry child
to plant and nurture a fruit bearing tree
to have the patience of the ages

to see before us
not a vision of vengeful hellfire
but the bright rays of hope
that shine both night and day.

Gabriele Pötscher  SALLY


Sitting on the stained and dusty
Once pinkish, now slowly greying
Shag rug of this old man’s living room
Thinking idly
Time to vacuum,
I fiddled with remote control
Wanting “Sally” and her guests
With luck
Would attack
Each other
Tear hair
Or gouge their bright red fingernails
Down each other’s made-for-TV faces.
Instead of Sally on the screen
Strange smoke
Cushioning like a pillow
From a tall building
Its dirty greyness
In stark contrast to the bright blue sky.
And then surprise.
From right to left
In perfect line
And undiminished speed
A plane
Arching itself towards a second block
Becoming on impact a plume of wondrous
Cries of shock
While I
Waiting for Sally
Against my will
Falling bodies
Pants legs fluttering
Ties blown upward
On descent
To lower Manhattan.
I peer at my own legs
Still anchored here
To the worn and scratchy rug
The old man I’ve come to see
At my back
What are we having to eat?
Turn off the TV
Pay attention to me.
They’ll be showing it all day anyway.

Consciousness States and Literary Creativity

Hermann J. Hendrich

It is for this reason (representing the true character of objects) that I hold the somewhat unusual view that artists are neurologists, studying the brain with techniques that are unique to them and reaching interesting but unspecified conclusions about the organization of the brain. Semir Zeki in ((3), p 80).


Already in the late forties of the last century Andreas Okopenko, an Austrian poet and writer, started to take notes about a certain consciousness state, which he experienced often. Later he began to call this state ‚Fluidum‘, „… At this enthused discourse at an age of 16 I called this phenomenon this reactive feeling upon a selected reality, FLUIDUM, I don’t know why.“ ((2), p 20/21) His first publication about his self observations appeared in an Austrian literary magazine in 1977 (1), much later a version with more examples and some comments by the author himself can be found in the two volumes of his selected writings (2).

Okopenko tried very hard to give us a good description of his ‚fluidum‘ as well as some definitions, a few of those I am presenting in an English translation.

„But the essential cannot be found in these encirclements, which do not sensually exceed thoughts or feelings, but something similar elementary or irreducible as the experience of the five senses.“ ((2), p 28)

„An important component of the fluidum is the affected one. The feeling of a fluidum comes most often as a shock.“ ((2), p 31)

„The fluidum is unique and mirrors subjectively the uniqueness of the moment. It hits like lightning. It is in the moment when it is perceived. During a fluidum the constituents of the moment are being felt as a whole and not as a collection of particular elements. The fluidum is an integral for experience within a time differential.“ ((2), p 53/54)

It should be noted that Okopenko by his heritage and upbringing has been a person from the eastern part of Europe (Moldavia) transferred to Vienna in his early teens and so has had a scholling experience with a number of different languages.

„The experience (of a fluidum) is functional: recognising (perceiving, reflecting), but also always dynamic: as seizure <Anwandlung>, enlightenment, lightning. The whole of the concept ‚fluidum‘ is an indivisible complex of objective content and excitement.“ ((2), p 27)

„The fluidum is not being exhausted in the optical realm on one side, and on the other side much conscious scanning does not lead to any fluidic experiences.“ (2), p 25)

„The fluidum is also one of the phenomena of pre-language thinking which is sometimes put into disgrace by the philosophers. (Thinking in pictures – not anything unclear! And not in icons! – clear perceiving of relations between seen or sensual imagined objects; before the words appear for them. …)“ ((2), p 29)

„The experience of a fluidum has similarities with spontaneous or provoked states of enlightenment or mystical intimacy, without a faith however at the fluidum.“ ((2), p 31)

„The clear sight in its meta-wordly aspect is the ‚direct experience‘3 … and one day the flash of the highest insight, the clear, happens, and with it the sight of the true reality.“ ((2), p 35)

In order to differentiate his fluidum experiences from the Eastern world view Okopenko mentions:

„In my fluidum experience I wander … over the limits of the subject, this tragic bearer of ‚the always opposite one‘ (Rainer Maria Rilke); until the confluence of the subject into the world of objects: into the midst within, at the suspension of contrast…“ ((2), p 38)

In 1963 Andreas states:

„You are recognising that everything you tried to say remains incommunicable. It can not be said with all the painstaking images of reality. It clings to the images but has its own nature.“

If these last two sentences give way to a feeling, which overcomes (I believe) many of us in the writing business sometimes, Okopenko certainly points to the problem of communicating consciously experienced phenomena. Especially states of consciousness apart from any mood may be very difficult to describe in a way accessible for the laywoman or the student.

Noting the additionally provided examples of Okopenko’s own poems or prose lines I suggest that his truthful self-observations fall into two categories, one characterised by this spontaneous enlightenment, and the other by a certain revelation, a heightened awareness, especially in the direction of aesthetic experience, but also of nature poetry.

I would like to add some other descriptions about fluidum by Okopenko. „Fluidum is an emotional state with existential resonance, or before an infinite horizon, basically it could happen always, even to catch up to a given narrow feeling.“ ((2) p 53)

„Maybe a great calm and a feeling of clarity comes over us.“ ((2) p 53)

„The Fluidum is singular and subjectively mirrors the singularity of the moment. It hits. It is complete in the very moment it is experienced. The elements of the moment are being felt as a unit and not as a cluster of individual pieces. The fluidum is an experience integral in a time differential. Despite the uniqueness of a fluidum all of one’s own fluidi are similar to each other, and one’s own and strange fluidi are also similar to each other, since each unique moment is similar to another one, and each psyche resembles another one. Artistic, fluidic communication: one zest for life alarms the other one.“ ((2) p 53/54)

The important thesis by Okopenko regarding poetry can be formulated as follows: The fluidic state of an author (poet) supports the development of new ways to write and to form poems. He cites a number of poets like Ezra Pound, James Joyce and T.S. Eliot, whose poetic works show an influence from the fluidic consciousness states. Especially the imagism from Pound seems to hold much in favour of Okopenko’s thesis. He believes very strongly that in writing poetry one tries to communicate ones own fluidic experiences. I believe an example of one of his poems from 1950 should somewhat clarify his intentions: a partial translation follows.

Now the various depths are being separated
Now you don’t eat in the best way cut up flowers
They do have their own scent, not a good one,
Now you eat bread from last year’s harvest or drill sharply
Into a tin can and cut around
The first slice of a canned piece.
As fast as possible you harness yourself before the rest of the country coaches
Breathe the yellow shaft
Pant the song in the yellow brown stubble field
From pursuing gray under the spread out gray
And then the sky rushes down.
You can only see a few steps ahead
The earth receives an adverse play explosions
Fountains of upwards pelting rain bundles
And sloping downwards, broken
And overlapping circles everywhere all the time.
Soaked man,
Man of the threethousand steps!

(From ‚Zu Herbstbeginn‘ (at the beginning of fall) in Okopenko 1980.

In my view: there is still a story, and the poem is full of surrealist influences, but when we take these away there is a rest, which may correspond to the fluidic experience: a certain hold in individual time, a widened consciousness state, which is able to observe simultaneously many different events on more than one sensual plan.

Let’s take a few lines by T.S. Eliot:

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sence, a white light still and moving, Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future
Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future
Allows but a little consciousness,
To be conscious is not to be in time
But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.

(T.S. Eliot 1963)

This part of a longer poem (Burnt Norton) really has the ‚fluidic‘ quality Okopenko tries to demonstrate in his essay. Despite some contents which lead us to later discussion in my paper.

Let me end with a poem in English by Samuel Beckett:

Da Tagte Es

redeem the surrogate goodbyes
the sheet astream in your hand
who have no more for the land
and the glass unmisted above your eyes

There is little to add. (Maybe no thing).
(Samuel Beckett 1961)


Some aspects in Okopenko’s description of his Fluidum lead to the discussion, if this consciousness state has some common elements with Fluidum. Usually synaesthetic experiences are defined as the production of mental sense impression relating to one sense by the stimulation of another sense.

‚A Review of Current Knowledge‘ has been written by Richard E. Cytowic in PSYCHE, 2 (10), July 1995. In his ABSTRACT he summarises very clearly all aspects, which are interesting to neurology and art & consciousness.

Under 2.8 he writes „…The spatial location of objects is also strikingly remembered, such as the precise location of kitchen utensils, furniture arrangements and floor plan, books on shelves, or text blocks in a specific book…“

A descriptive passage from Andreas Okopenko ((2), p 23): „Suddenly – be it spontaneously or provoked, a watercock becomes of enormous importance to us, which has been indifferently looked at before. Or a room appears in a moving-perspective to us and becomes exciting for us. Particularly the alienation (‚Verfremdung‘) does much for a fluidic movement in the presence.“

„A whole landscape including the smallish human beings, little houses, vehicles, their perspectives, flowers, closenesses, distances, their weather, fragments of conversation, manifest values and no values, their tragedy, their humour, youth, age, water, heat, wind, single movements constantly everywhere, embedded in the nearest and the farthest surrounding, sucking in prehistory until world future, in addition superpositioning with my own small and large history, my appetite, clothe status, health status, working plan, with hopes, resentments, sexual life, this fitted into the world and this observing one self that all may become enchanting in the simultaneous experience (and not in remembering it).“

This poetic recall of a fluidic experience seems to me to be the only overlap between Okopenko’s concept and the general acceptance of synaesthetic ones. In this regard I would like to point to Cytowic’s paragraph 3. ‚History Of Synaesthesia‘ as well as to Braddock’s paragraph ‚Synaesthesia: A Case Study in Phenomenology through Vicarious Experience‘ in (5) and to the section ‚Artists, Poets and Synaesthesia‘ by Ramachandran and Hubbard in (6).

Besides the point, that Okopenko mentions a number of poets, whom he suspects of having had ‚fluidic‘ experiences, and whose names we find again in the articles mentioned above there is little evidence, that ‚fluidum‘ could be really listed within the synaesthetic experiences.

The discussion about synaesthesia lead to very interesting speculations, which should be noted by writers and literary reviewers, as „Second, we propose the existence of a kind of sensory to motor synaesthesia, which may have played a pivotal role in the evolution of language.“ (Ramachandran and Hubbard in ‚Synaesthesia – A Window into Perception, Thought and Language‘ in (6)). A similar view on the evolution of language is expressed by Harry van der Hulst in Hulst 1999.

Reviewing the above mentioned sources I am declined to think, that the ‚fluidum‘ of Okopenko has very little connections with anything being discussed within the realm of synaesthesia. There is one point which should be mentioned, however. The literature points to a fact, that synaesthets within the group of poets, writers and artists in the wider sense of the word are unproportionally existing compared with a more general group.

I am no synaesthet: music recalls emotions in my mind, but no colours, and paintings are just paintings for me. Understanding the main feelings of a synaesthet I still do find a phenomenological problem within this area.

Maybe the sentence by G. Braddock in his ‚Beyond Reflection in Naturalized Phenomenology‘ (5) on page 13: „In short, our phenomenological verdict about synaesthesia and its role in normal perception will be directed by all of the above information, and, in fact by any other information that might push our account of the phenomena in one direction or another.“ Serves well to my ideas at this time in writing that ‚account‘.

It may be interesting to note, that the German term ‚Doppelbegabung‘, intended to describe artists creating original works in at least two different art provinces, like poetry and music, or painting and theatrical propositions, may only try to group persons as synaesthetics together.

To own this heightened awareness in perception in form and intensity of sound, colour, bodily movement or rhapsodic prose may have been sometimes an advantage for the individual, leaving it to achieve a carrier as shamane, sorceress, cave painter, rock scratcher, and later into the roles of bards and clowns. It can be summed up by two sentences of Robert Allott:

„The process of art production as a biological reality presents problems for a number of aspects of evolutionary theory (e.g. fitness, altruism, gene determination of behaviour, gene selection) which may best be solved by defining or amending the theories rather than by ejecting the art process from the realm of biology. If the arts are correctly treated as biological in origin and in the process of artistic creation, the issue that matters, on the the analysis in the preceding section, is not the node of transmission of cultural pattern (via hypothetical memes, culturgens, etc.) but the origination of the cultural patterns, artistic or cultural ‚creation‘.“ (Allott 2002)


(An associative description)

After a short while travelling in the tram during the onsetting twilight the view from my wide open eyes remains sharply focussed in the direction of the fast passing building walls with windows, entrances, shops, and in between lying billboards. The passengers are perceived as precisely outlined shapes throughout the field of vision, especially, if one moves. Familiar faces are resolved into strange features. (The way of viewing, the representation of the surrounding objects must have been widened.) The written signs on the shop portals are being perceived as such, but the meaning of the agglomeration of letters cannot be recognised.

The colours and shapes on each poster appear extremely clear, but cannot be combined together into a picture. Mirrorlike glass surfaces surrounded by dark brown frame wood, the phenomena themselves start to win significance, and those concepts which regulate the representation of objects are not involved.

In a way Jennifer Church gives us some explanation wen she writes in her article ‚Seeing A’s and the Double Bind of Consciousness‘ (4) on page 99: „Central to aesthetic experience, but also to experience in general, is the phenomenon of ’seeing as‘. We see a painting as a landscape, we hear sequence of sounds as a melody, we see a wooden contraption as a boat, and we hear a comment as an insult.“

Back to my ‚inside‘ report:

No effort can be felt by keeping the look forward even throughout many minutes. After these minutes the visual attention widens itself over the total field of view, no difference between foreground and background can be made anymore, the movement of single elements against each other, the shifts and overpositions can be observed, without moving the direction of the view, all things happening simultaneously. During this time acoustic phenomena can be perceived as well, and in contrast to the visual experience the meaning of utterances, even when more then one persons speaks at the same time, can be understood.

Thinking in a certain respect has actually ceased, since stimuli or analogue chains are no more followed at all. The capacity of conscious perception is just large enough to accept the immensely large abundance of visual and auditory details. The progressive loss of significance leads one to indulge in a strong feeling of strangeness. The normal atmosphere of feelings and emotions vanishes. The self is no longer included in the reality around it.

Another citation from Church’s above mentioned article, page 103, following Kant’s insight: „although seeing seems to be a twoplace relation between the seer and the seen, and thinking appears to be a twoplace relation between the thinker, the object of thought, and what is thought about that object, conscious thinking also requires one to merge an object with the way it is presented. “ And later on page 105: „This is not to say, that all thinking must be accompanied by images; sometimes thinking amounts to little more than the syntactical manipulation of symbols.“

Without being able to compare my ‚freeze‘ experience with those of others I can only speculate, that there are certain ways to loosen the ‚double binding‘ in consciousness space.

Since introspection does not give me any hints, how I really manage to click on freeze, I must leave this consciousness state to further investigations.

It seems also, that Eastern meditative practices lead to a similar state.

Zazen, Zen

‚zen‘ is a translation of the Indian Sanskrit word for meditation. Meditation has been passed down as one of the three facets of Buddhist practice (i.e. morality, meditation and wisdom). It is the most essential of the practices taught by Sakyamuni Buddha who himself attained supreme enlightenment by single-mindedly penetrating zazen.

In his Fukan Zazengi (The Universal Promotion of the principles of Zazen). Dögen says, that the crux of zazen is „non-thinking; that is the essential of zazen.“ This non-thinking is impossible to explain. If it could be explained, then it would not be non-thinking. Non-thinking is just non-thinking and there is no other way for you to experience for yourself in zazen.

You can’t understand with your brain. If you practice zazen, on the other hand, you can experience satori unconsciously. The posture of zazen itself is satori. Satori is the return to the normal, original condition. It is the consciousness of the new-born baby. Unlike what many people think, satori is not some special state, but simply a return to the original condition. Through the practice of Zazen one becomes peacefully. Through one’s body one can discover the consciousness of satori. So posture is very important. You can’t discover satori with your head in your hands like Rodin’s thinker. That is why people in the East respect the posture of the Buddha. It is the highest posture of the human body. Chimpanzees and babies cannot experience satori. Babies are in their original condition, but then karma obscures it, and we must regain that condition. Chimpanzees don’t nee to; they are always in their original condition. Only human beings have lost it and become complicated and so they must regain it.

Zazen clears up the human being mind immediately and lets him dwell in his true essence. Zazen transcends both the unenlightened and the sage, rises above the dualism of delusion and enlightenment. Through zazen we break free from all things, forsake myriad relations, do nothing and stop the working of the six sense organs.

Awareness is the ontological ground of phenomenal appearance, which only have reality as manifestations of Nature.

From these diverse statements (Maybe one wants to look up ‚Lecture on Zen‘ by Alan Watts) it seems plausible, to compare ‚freeze‘ with Zen When we lose the name of an object do we lose the object too? Patches of colour, sounds without meaning remain.

Andreas Okopenko writes about ‚direktes Erkennen‘ and Satori and believes, that Haiku or Zenrin are very close to a fluidic kind of poetry.


Literary creativity is a wide area, where new imagery, new forms for poetry or prose or new philosophical thoughts or recombinations are tried out and performed. Throughout our writing history stimulations have been sought by poets and writers in general to wake up creativity. Heavy smoking seems to be the one most often used ancillary, but alcoholic fluids from beer to whisky served some as well. In the modern literary history the use of many kinds of substances with mind expanding or mind changing abilities have been in use.

So it lies near that specific consciousness states, reached without the intake of any chemical substance at all, could serve this purpose as well.

From the various descriptions of poets, especially in ‚Fluidum‘ by Andreas Okopenko, one receives the impression, however, that the fluidum or synaesthetic experiences serve indirect means for literary creativity. It is the impact of these experiences which the poet tries to describe or bring into a communicable form, using language. Okopenko points to the theory of writing zenrin and haiku.

The role of ‚fluidum‘ may be described by using some words of explanation, Okopenko has written (2) about a request, to explain one of his own poems:

Strange Night

Blue cold wind of May
Gasdischarged from moon brown clouds,
Bushy tree tops driving
Avenue chestnuts wood
No rain will arrive until now

Seltsame Nacht

Blaukalter Maiwind
aus mondbraunen Wolken gasend,
Buschende Baumspitzen treibende
Allee Kastanien Wald
Es will bis jetzt nicht Regen einlangen

(partial presentation)

„Fluidum is a feeling with existential resonance, in front of a unending horizon, basically always possible, to be catched up with a given narrow emotion……About a great silence and a feeling of clarity overcomes us.“

It seems to me, that writing in this sense means reliving those episodes of unusual consciousness states. Okopenko has, however, scanned modern literature for remains and suggestions about fluidic experiences, brought forward in writing. For details see (2).

Synaesthetic experiences lead to somewhat different examples, many of those cited in the mentioned literature. A large number of poets used metaphors including colour references, as well as painters like Wassilij Kandinsky (The yellow sound) worked from the synaesthetic experience of music and colour. We can state that synaesthetic poets and writers have an internal source for creativity in their poetic work.

‚Freeze‘ and Zen – may I combine my intentions here? – can also not be used for writing while you are in a freeze or enlightened. Remembering those consciousness states, however, should spur the strife of writing. Using my freeze experiences I tried to get into what I repeatedly described as an ‚hot point‘ within myself, finding there the opening lines of some of my emotional moving poems. Let me end with one of it:

Heart Your Shaking
As by asked for I had
Only one hand – gratified touch
Ask never what aggravated me
Entrusted to clarity


(1) protokolle No 2 (1977), Wien, Jugend und Volk
(2) Okopenko, Andreas 2000/2001, Gesammelte Aufsätze Vol I & II, Klagenfurt, Ritter
(3) JCS Vol 6 (1999) June/July
(4) JCS Vol 7 No 8-9 (2000)
(5) JCS Vol 8 No 11 (2001)
(6) JCS Vol 8 No 12 (2001)


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