Academy of the Stricken

                    [A] noise in mine eare, a light in mine eye, an any thing,
                         a nothing, a fancy, a Chimera in my braine,
                              troubles me in my prayer.


                    AVT TACE
                         AVT LOQVERE MELIORA


                    We are on the cusp of accomplishing the will
                         of any man whose words we repeat.


                         Philosophy is to keep silent or say something better than • silence, the unkindest of sciences one always wants to be • finding himself by while working on something else, defying the • lowered expectations of complacent people by prophesying, hollering from heaven’s • higher firmaments harsher words deriding their politics and their principles, • pronouncing vindictive invectives defining irreconcilable differences with muscle and all-knowing • •

                         smiles, necromantic cartomancers no longer spread thin from having to • deal with them, casting off the veils of those parking • lot temples where Capitalism’s thoughtless worshippers walk in circles counter-clockwise • trying to find purpose through their purchases, blinded by the • lies they buy, this is the work of those few • imbued with knowledge, the tomb of martyrs, in its pursuit • valuing substance over substances, robbers of prophets denying the vulgar • populace a glimpse behind the curtain of his third eye’s • •

                         lid, the philosopher is the magus isolating it when he • identifies life’s meaning in the body of a momentary vision • bleeding significance though fleeting, feeding the conflagration of his own • rumours with blinking fistfuls of charred kohl incensed by a • wealth of mystery which cannot be sold, beating back into • its hole his broken soul before the window wisdom opened • closes and late-night halos lay on last-chance lovers tomorrow’s afterglow. • •


                         Am I the restorer of an old discipline or the • founder of a new one? An intellectually bold and lonely • man bearded with wisdom beyond my years? A bardic gatherer • of analogies hunted by the energy of my past, with • the sympathies of which I no longer correspond? An honest • usurper taking from the corpse of another sage’s corpus his • place in the canon? A colossus astride two worlds? A • •

                         flatterer of princes darkness slanders burdened by the subterranean workings • of my own character? Or an impure fool patience and • perseverance turns to gold that has not yet been unearthed, • the sun that has gone down to be reborn or • burned by its rebirth? Is rhetoric the answer or logic’s • death? Art questions entertainment’s motives as Mercury determines his own • orbit, enlightens the few and baffles the many with whispers • •

                         and symbols abiding myth, answering to nobody, obscuring life’s secret • lest it fall into the hands of worldlings, he is • a feathered serpent going around our planet like an egg • pregnant with an unlawful knowledge of mysteries fathered by a • secret doctrine, enough to obliterate a species. Pursuing the shadows • of great arts has drawn him close to me, filling • my head with dark wisdom experience only teaches initiates to • •


                         alleviate the world-weariness and ennui of those pupils who bloom • early and die late—or not at all—for whom • living is a garden crowds water down, trampled by them • in their haste to take from such poisonous flowers their • forbidden fragrance, those degenerate pederasts filthying their faces with the • mud of fate whenever they go down to taste petals • of flame whose innocence they never asked before igniting it • •

                         with shame, blushing fruits too young to be imprisoned by • lettered chains not even bruising the flesh of saints can • break, playing god we abuse divine intelligence, original sin’s initial • devastation relived again and again, DNA rearranged to make of • burning bushes a name, the Ur-equivocal ACGT of the original • YHVH whose many voices, once uncaged, yearn to return to • one tongue after swimming through so many veins, the academy • •

                         of the stricken a refuge from the wilderness where a • magician’s undying fame fans the flames of misunderstanding to brilliance, • inwardly blazes a fiery strength heaven sent, branding with his • reputation god’s gift not to all but to some, neither • alike nor dead, the mind is most powerful when truth • hides the shame of our mistakes from philosophers’ eyes, to • steal wits even of the wise, the dew of heaven • •


                         and fat of the earth work in me what wonders • nature cannot, works of fire, transmutation is the metamorphosis which • confers the invisibility of the magi, hiding the artist from • mortal eyes, his method discovered only by second sight, I • am a soul who has been separated from its body, • no longer able to be fed or watered on its • native soil, I am the godless mystagogue, self-assured and certain • •

                         of my purpose, flawless in this art and lawless in • its pursuit which confuses the clueless, mind is magnetic and • by my thoughts I attract that for which my imagination • toils, an amanuensis through the hand of whom passes the • seeds of secrets, by means of anamnesis, seeking their meaning • in the introspection of magic, I had a reminiscence of • it, and found the past within me, developing the thoughts • •

                         of my ancestors, remembering how to eat the fruit of • the trees their wisdom planted, by progression in time, the • world diminishes knowledge by descending into spiritually darker ages, I • am the son of Aries and Taurus, the horizon balancing • their forces, my inheritance of storms informs this fortune’s torment, • suffering eclipses is my birthright, I deal in moods and • nuances, every city has a gate where lovers tryst, and • •


                         tonight, under a moon fluent in what languages the kisses • of strangers profane with thirsty lips in terrible conflict with • sacred love, wearing only a veil of mist, I refuse • to resist telling you this, for there exists no other • flesh into which I wish to knit my own, and • since silence forces you to confront your Self, I know • and confess that you are the Talmud to my Torah, • •

                         waiting for an occasion to perform my task, all you • have to do is ask, my heart is symbolized by • the same letter as yours in each of the three • languages, magic is where we meet, where spirit is conversant • with each of the elements and no one worthy of • knowing is any longer deceived, at that point where the • four corners of the earth dismiss their watchtowers to greet • •

                         our I, You, and We, where seven sins might seven • virtues actually be, the crossroads of two lives intersecting like • the lines of Christ’s martyrdom, and ours is a sacrifice, • let me get to the point: a line and a • circle, one inside of the other, in a certain hieroglyphic • work of mine a line is just a flow of • points I dropped, attitude as loud then as the weather • •


                         is now, a poet learns sooner or later the power • of making words with his tongue when it’s in another’s • mouth, I speak to those whose eyes reside in their • hearts, those like you who know the devil is difficult • to recognize—he looks like the things we miss most, • the hole is equal to the lonesomeness of all its • partings, for too long my companion has been my mirror, • •

                         to solve a great doubt I blackened out its oracle’s • laughing portent, philosophy is an egg whose shell art cracks, • break open beauty and you find wisdom, to make of • my nihilogisms a religion, I had to shatter the contention • of my arguments against fitting-in and embrace silence with conviction, • anticipating that more exquisitely than any alchemy, the puzzle of • relationships would yield its key if only I would relinquish • •

                         my Self to Us, only a godly-minded man can read • this mystical language, so forgive me for imparting my wish • to worship you in this steganographic opus, transmitting secrets beneath • a canopy of ink these pages eclipse, Mercury, in his • dignity, imparted to me the key to eternity, useless, unless • this is happiness, stitch us up like a constellation, every • kiss is a scar, a notch on the bedpost of • •


                         this, our nocturnal throne, at the auspicious hour, the breastbone • is that solar centre on which rests the warmth of • our love, seat of our happiness from which the intention • of our wish wrestles its richest substance, sex is mechanical • magic that transforms men into animals, the alchemical algorithm by • which passion’s practice accomplishes what affection’s theory cannot, to be • knit into the net of a poem by caresses of • •

                         a pen blunting their minds with the sharpness of my • words, wit dulled against the heads which cannot understand it, • voice and nothing more to them when the glamour of • transient affairs fades, those heretical kids who demand immortality but • could never handle it, a massacre of innocence, let us • present them to posterity, burned by their desire for pleasure • and profit, they forfeit (self-)knowledge to be wanted, when love’s • •

                         not what moves your heart, you’ll fall apart in the • pursuit of its opposite, two arms into four legs of • the cross, not coming down or undone until we bleed • something worth opening up for, a nomad finds the monad • wherever he wanders, such as I have among the wonders • of your heaven’s firmament you’ve let me pierce, when our • song ends, will the malady linger on? Solve the riddle • •


                         of the sphinx and you will have answered the subject • of the true alchemist’s quest: the art of pleasing a • man, with feelings of fear and love, I plucked out • my feathers to become for you naked as Adam, with • the gall of iron, the ink unwrites itself, inscribed by • god’s own finger on all those creatures we become in • this wilderness, vultures fed on by snakes and insects, the • •

                         geometer king, measuring our pain, traced the shape of chaos • on our foreheads to comfort us, goldsmiths and engravers are • the unworthy heirs of symbols, yet here, the goldsmith and • the engraver are the mechanics of our magic’s machine, those • craftsmen whose midwifery sweats off her chicanery and brings forth • the one thing our great work births, wisdom’s unity of • every concept, yet essential oneness is the loneliest theorem to • •

                         put into practice, with you I am more than a • succession of images instead of a unified personality, a person • and a persona whose divisive evil your touch makes civil, • performing the works of cosmic construction, you impart power to • images when I feel like the after-image of a scribe • once the ink has dried, when I let you level • with me and tell me that the prince of darkness • •


                         isn’t the devil but death, that the price of life • is a smashing together—as though of atoms—smatterings of • lyrical fragments to which I am too inextricably wed to • sever into constituent poems of diminished grandeur, a blessing hidden • beneath layers of lacquer my lack of power against your • glance strips of its veneer, a distressing pouring out of • prayers without the audience of heaven’s ears, little lies stumble • •

                         out of tall mouths betraying my fragility I wear with • all the chagrin of a monument feigning permanence to hide • the weight of youth’s wasted years, fame whispering into men’s • ears with tongues that prick like thorns what lyrics no • troubadour before wanted to pour on me lest I like • too much the sting of a stranger singing sordid memories, • and it sounds better than having to do battle with • •

                         my predecessors and my successors at once, truth is what • happens to an idea when we make use of it, • when we become our own Muses and make music of • talent’s many abuses, debating with decay until futile battles feel • less useless and, finally, a beast at peace with the • god inside me, I want what every man wants for • his legacy: for love to send its embassy like a • •


                         perfumed fugue of a death knell’s swollen notes sinking into • the stinking throats of those whores who tell stories of • youth’s virgin purity with dirty mouths, washing out what such • dark-hearted enemies of legends filthy when they end myths with • antiheroic feats eternity doubts, not knowing the difference between the • holy and the divine, the guardians of the watchtowers of • the north roll out with thunderous force carpets of cloud • •

                         wrapping like tongues around the heavens, seeking for a dove • who does not mourn, inviting him who finds in this • world a purpose hidden from all others to enter heaven’s • temple without passing from one life into the next by • the gate of death, to accept that an angel is • just intuition, to forfeit flesh for this tradition of riches • laconic columns call only the wealth of Scorpio, banking with • •

                         alchemical gold on cheques inscribed with the tetragrammaton, I choose • to forego the assumption of hypothetical apotheosis and follow you, • fugitive as Atalanta, erecting temples to your beauty standing in • its shadow, to stop giving them the run-around and to • give physic to my ills, tell them all that my • gods must be crazy for abandoning me, for my wanting • to be known as a fool when I kneel to • •


                         you instead of a pantheon, school the kids in our • misery’s ignition, give them the key to this blaze’s conflagration, • initiate the boys in narcissism, make mystics of neophyte acolytes • ad extremum, tell them of the dangers of reflections, of • a Roman who died of martyrdom away from Rome, to • look away from principles and look toward consequences, make known • that I die whenever I throw my shape into your • •

                         tomb and you survive, every time, since legends cannot resist • mirrors, we seek to find our Selves in antique light, • trying on wings to make our own flight less like • Icarus’ and more a symptom of existing in the wrong • time, I am Lot’s wife always looking behind me as • we ride from Sodom into Hitler’s salt mines the greed • of his Third Reich piles high with pillars of pilfered • •

                         art over and over until tomorrow, this is the work, • worms going through old books divine providence favoured with spines • whose thick ribs stitch together meanings cloaked in secrets, bent • over them until then, since this world is one without • end, mortal men mimic maggots as we fag out and • chew through ancient languages, unspoken ascents uplifting us when even • our spirits leave us, and we need to accent our • •


                         quest with annotations underscoring these lines whose words bore into • mortared minds passages the masses will always find boring, pouring • into pores what toil should be worth more to them, • out of this world and into it again, I stay • behind for you, I make these signs for you, I • say what I cannot do, I lay what my hand • wants to, my pages of poetry are my race of • •

                         court cards unafraid to show their faces, playing no games • when they portend a way, even for you who read • this, out of your bonds of clay, wrists as thick • as a deck, fat as a bible’s gut, take your • pick, have a peek, cut, and tear out your future, • read into it what you will, critics kill magic’s force • and defeat the purpose of iconography by inverting the image, • •

                         what I tell you is worth the pilgrimage, getting through • this half the sacrifice wisdom asks of her suitors, the • hours I put into it crafting symbols that remain heretic • to the last should convince you revolution is the revelation • of god, go against me and make something off what • I make sound so odd, in very truth I treasure • your heart, locked up in my chest, a beating I • •


                         cannot resist so take what you dismiss as pure shit • and turn it to a hit, what you cannot see • sing, perhaps these are lyrics, but without a teacher how • will you ever understand them? In the seventh month, on • the seventh and final day, at the hour of man, • god imposed a limit on the infinite, whispering to him, • ‘I know well your pagan lust for sabotage,’ and ever • •

                         since, nature’s victory over culture ensures he dies in exile • whoever tries to measure the length of his own life, • unable to pay reason’s debt, these books are emblems of • thoughts, oceans full of jewels, oases our biblical summer rewards • us with, a mint of cool papers scented with the • perfume of a blue lotus, a fragrant and potent offering • of knowledge whose azure flavours we savour, actualizing the potential, • •

                         divine intelligence dances, with lapis breath bathing in golden specks • this naïve innocence we no longer want defining us, obtaining • what we seek once true power is understood on a • level more basic than speech, tongues of spark gavotte across • our heads if we abandon thought and walk on water • with our spirit, we are only as far from the • truth as we are near it, when you stop speaking • •


                         you can hear it, your name appearing on a page • without ink to bleed of it its taste, take in • what I say before you move beyond this moment, since • I stay behind for you, make do with what for • the time being eludes you, we can’t get back to • Eden unless we know the way, gravity has no shame • throwing down cryptic sayings changing the shape of the path • •

                         we need to follow, dragging down victims it won’t name, • we stray when we wander instead of wondering in awe • at its pace, how the Universe takes no chances in • laying its veins under the flesh of our mistakes, should • we learn from our falls that the flaw is not • in our stars but in our fear of once and • for all truly understanding our Selves, then we will have • •

                         touched palms with gods, rewarded our own efforts with laurels • no one else can deserve or dissolve, we are the • puzzles peace restores to fullest force of original art, a • grieved heart has many siblings, weeping wisdom which threads the • maze of existence, since lust is the halfway house between • loneliness and the fulfillment of a wish’s persistence, a flower • that likes to be lonely wilts unless it lets in • •


                         the sting of a wingèd thing, an angel who sips • only a little of our mortal pain will never spill • or spit what it drinks, but sings into these wounds • what truth strings the lyre, his breath of flame blowing • into the fire we deny acknowledgment what makes it roar • higher, playing a tune ruinous to evil, igniting a funeral • pyre’s smoking bones so that his psalm phones in enough • •

                         hope to empower us to go forward, toward the light • whose blessing or burning out we won’t know until we • trust in the process, what results varies us into equally • superior species no longer in need of being needed, evolved • creatures differing only in the speed of our thoughts, how • long it takes what I imagine to reach the part • of you that still believes in magic is the measure • •

                         of what once was my tragedy converting doubt into a • wealth of confidence, by reading this I empower you to • shed what flesh has kept you from mouthing aloud, what • others’ lips have shouted in centuries previous, the secret whose • worth no one else’s criticism can lessen, that only the • elect, the dismembered and afflicted initiates of this academy of • the stricken can comprehend: damage is how nature manages to • •


                         perfects us, chimeras meeting in cameras, shattering mirrors with terrific • and terrifying glances staring back at us from within the • machinery of our dreams, we are them, those quiet beasts • from whom the ignorant flee, before whose grimaces the mathematics • of reason bend, logic tears off its stage clothes, rending • the fabric of physics, lifting veils to reveal underneath letters • numbers, and under numbers letters, layers of meaning only we • •

                         can read yet everyone can see, if you can’t count • on your intuition, why put faith in another’s allegèd erudition? • I will teach you the sum of everything, I’m made • of math, a man of many parts, an adept, every • season adapts its tempests to my whim, the trembling hand • of history oscillates the cradle, turns the crucible that formed • me, I am what I pour my Self into, absorbing • •

                         without conforming to them the shapes I take on, a • myth immortalized by every language whose tongue translates my relic • of an existence no one else has lived except by • paradox, a vicarious equation of strangers with my dead experience, • patriarchs burden the present as new generations of gods overthrow • the old, you are the exception, my belovèd, attractive as • a tetractys that dropped the ball, as enthralling as a • •


                         temple which has thrown open its vaults to all who • know at what hour to call, a fraction of my • soul for whom I have crossed the threshold of the • horizon which for so long has divided us, you make • me whole, when we are together there is a winter • where even the snow flakes under the weight of the • shadows our hatred of the world throws, in a godless • •

                         apocalypse the only thought left will be our fantasy, hot • enough to thaw discarded lovers who have remained admirers, with • no witnesses left, accomplishments self-destruct, disintegrate into nothingness, so we • will need them around if we wish to be worshipped, • so let’s build our altar here, near to where a • tacit deal began it all, and to think that we • ran at all from it, this gift the pursuers of • •

                         our fathers called tragic, the real tragedy that, after purchasing • it, those villagers never could catch up with this eternal • sort of life they bought us, real magic is ancestral, • its power genetic, infernal strife families like ours were built • to manage, blinding themselves hiding behind hedges, strangers with their • whispered accounts are idiots bleeding from its facts not a • drop of that pact’s darkest articles, what actually transpired then • •


                         transpires still, fulfilling wishes ever since, stilling and staving off • death ever since so that, even now, we live as • if a century were only yesterday, the devil holding off • drawing us down by our heels until hell is ready • to accept it fucked with the wrong kids, art is • long, politics short, history concedes victory to the imagination, with • pens warring against memory, men make of themselves gods no • •

                         words can kill, repeating them accomplishes our will, to read • is not necessarily to see what really lies underneath, all • parts of a line are lines, all lines are points, • this is the sacred secret of geometry, there is genius • hidden in typography, sin taxes diction any way it can • until what we say makes what we do inconsequential, seeking • similarities I undergo death within my Self every time I • •

                         let them find meaning where there is none, when I • condescend to popular opinion and suffer mortals to make trivial • what my mind uncages from my skull’s menagerie, cerebral beasts • whose shapes always seem hideous to those who are oblivious, • who never can get that turning the pages of illuminated • manuscripts creates living objects, that even glimpsing what someone ages • ago said reanimates to fullest life its consequences, that a • •


                         lineage is at once a genealogy and a tree whose • limbs have been split into leaves to which a soul, • good or evil, relates when they are spread open, roles • are reversed when they are flipped, when prohibited books reach • distant shores whose vigilant light-keepers preserve more than sailors with • a piercing look, turn an eye and welcome into your • ear its innocuous hook, this verse which subverts what’s right • •

                         to trick, like Odysseus did Penelope’s suitors, impostors into being • annihilated by what point he drove home: that you’re my • wife and this is my throne, in my absence beyond • the seas a mind like a manor matured by the • truancy of its lord, a castle unperturbed by squalls and • storms, having weathered more than its share of dark forces • in all their forms, in my dreams I took the • •

                         royal road in my ascent to the higher realms of • madness, sauntered lost through the thickets of its forests, returning • in the uncertain moments of an ongoing war, in the • exchanges and the union of our sweat, I am yours, • as nature abhors a vacuum, I know that wisdom hates • to be alone, that this world is a painted veil, • that it’s only a metaphor for so much more, so • •


                         stop trusting illusions, rid your thoughts of others’ ideologies, stop • resisting the system of my existence and put on these • things in which I clothe my thesis, get into the • grammar of habit and be put at ease by verbs • working against ills only philosophy can cure, since once it • was said that to philosophize is to learn to die, • I am your guide through its labyrinthine portals, the bipedal • •

                         jackal who tours the underworld, follow my words, devour their • design, an idea as sure of itself as love burning • with foreknowledge of its inevitable apotheosis, the way candles colour • a church, the way images lure the illiterate masses to • religion, I am struck dumb in my curse, taken by • what I can only describe as resembling in its symptoms • a bout of possession, unable to speak of it any • •

                         longer, a nameless demon at a loss for language, guided • for so long by its consolation, this letter is a • frenetic hand’s revenge taken on my infamy, to outlive all • of my appetites, to outrace the laughing part of life, • to gain with risk deformed pearls of baroque wisdom, to • outlive critics by way of quotation, I am a fool • whose journey ends where it began, in the midst of • •


                         a long sentence, imprisoned by my own contradictions, I am • Narcissus without a mirror, envious of his own reflection, an • author who desires desire, fire following lights in the water, • a star falling like ink into the bowl of heaven, • an iconoclast of an evangelist clapping with ashen hands at • the fulfillment of an astronomical event no astrology could forecast, • mapping what transpires in that hand’s-breadth of a moment between • •

                         faith and doubt, the subtle sortilege which makes the fatal • accidental, gospel truth inadmissible, in pursuit of you I am • a beast burdened by what I consume, braying at the • moon, waxing with the weight of secret sorrow, this is • the wealth of Scorpio, I am doomed to repeat what • I read unless what I say erases from the tablet • in my head what those who have gone before me • •

                         have said, when I’m with you I’m someone else, I’m • something new, an alchemist making do with what moves through • me more freely than what any Dead White Guy™ could • ever teach me, trusting in what I already am instead • of striving to become what others can’t, together we are • what they are not, those vile bodies unworthy of the • rare arcana we call ours, this is for us, a • •


                         new scripture whose heretical whispers few will comprehend, except, perhaps, • the more Cimmerian among them, those people who, from remote • realms of mist and gloom, hear what unsung heroes mean • when they sing this unwieldy thing, stringing on liars with • lines like these which, underneath, read: ‘You thought you’d burnedus when you told us to get bent, but metalsare rehabilitated by fire—your labours have become obsolete, your • •

                         science is insufficiently established, you’re all ashes attempting to imbuewith credibility and cachet something that has absolutely none—somethingelectric stitches our mosaic, we spell it LVX’ a combustion • of selfishness understanding for once that praying for what we • want turns angels to dust, that I exist to be • admired, sublimating my sexuality by creating what passion cannot: true • and lasting art. Am I a solipsist or an egotist? • •

                         A man-on-a-mission or a misanthropist whose mortality has gone into • remission? Flesh that howls like a wolf for your return, • immolation of the heart on the altar of the ego • seems to those who know its burn the most graceless • thing imaginable, to turn gold into platinum is to do • more than sell, this feeding a fever to tell strangers • what I have brought into this life from my ancestors.

1John Donne, “Sermon 10[:] John 11.21. Preached at the Funeral of Sir William Cokayne, December 12, 1626” in John Donne’s Sermons on the Psalms and Gospels: With a Selection of Prayers and Meditations: Edited, with an Introduction, by Evelyn M. Simpson, published at Berkeley by University of California Press in 2003; page 227.
2Salvator Rosa, inscription from his self-portrait entitled Philosophy, painted at Florence about 1645; oil on canvas, 116.3 × 94 cm, presented by the 6th Marquis of Lansdowne in memory of his father, 1933, accession number NG4680, The National Gallery, London. Translated from the Latin, it warns the viewer of Rosa’s own taciturn likeness, “Keep silent or say something better than silence.”
3Eliphas Lévi, “Chapter Eleven: The Triple Chain” in “Part Two: The Ritual of High Magic” of The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic: Translated by Mark Anthony Mikituk: Introduction and Notes by John Michael Greer, published at New York by TarcherPerigee in 2017; page 286.