I have also written some poems. This essay goes against the usual Spectral Lyre grain. Our stated emphasis is on the recovery and discovery of others’ work. I hope I’ll be forgiven this personal indulgence. I so indulge as a way of trying to understand something that happens occasionally inside my head, aesthetically or spiritually speaking. That happening has to do with eccentric volumes, and I’ll call the investigation of this phenomenon “paraspherics.”
A number of my poems were written about or during the experience of a parasphere. What do I mean by that word? That’s what I’m trying to find out by writing this piece.
Whatever a parasphere is, it’s different than what Proust wrote about. It’s not a volume of memory prompted spontaneously by an olfactory stimulous. But although its volume is other than memory, a parasphere might balloon into being, ala Proust, via some sensory effect. Maybe the smell of an alien house. Maybe a stray fragment heard of free piano jazz from the late 1950s. Maybe a slant of sunlight seen peripherally, not even consciously registered. Or maybe an old grainy photo briefly glimpsed in some book or online page. But it’s not about the house, music, sunlight, or photo. Each of those is merely a capricious lever opening the valve to a pump that inflates a parasphere.
Oftener than not though, a parasphere bubbles up of its own accord with no stimulus, as if an objective rather than a subjective phenomenon. As if it’s trying to speak for itself from inside its own metaphysical predicament. It seems to want someone to know about and maybe speak for its existential vagueness and drifting forlornness.
Inside each parasphere is an image, saturated with its own significance. They last hardly any time at all, yet these images seem to exist in a dimension of semi-eternity. The science of paraspherics has nothing to do, I’m pretty sure, with chemistry and physics. And a parasphere is not epiphenomenal — not an unreal bubble of consciousness subtending on neurons. They are self-contained, discrete volumes of previous or unrealized time, floating past with their imprisoned images happening like those inside snow globes.
The great living poet Adam Zagajewski writes about impressions lifting off from observed experience. These impressions are enriched by a European historical context. His poems are aesthetic, spiritual intuitions, are strangely beautiful evocations of being’s riddle. His work suggests an other-space of poetic vision that haunts a this-space of prosaic situation. His poems are subtle hymns to an intuited otherness. But his poems are not about paraspheres.
If I’m the only one who experiences paraspheres, then it’s probably a symptom of mild psychopathy. Nonetheless, I feel a certain responsibility to these eccentric volumes. A documentary duty. These lost spheres of actual or unrealized shapes of time and being float past and seem to say, “Because we are, the world is weirder than anyone imagines; please write our scientific-metaphysic epitaphs in prose or poem.”
Can I describe one of these paraspheres? Not really. All I can say descriptively are a few uncertain things. They have a ghostly, brooding ambiance. Some are interiors, some exteriors. Some contain possible people. All are intense structures of unknowable spiritual uniqueness. It’s probably best that I say something even more indirectly about paraspheres: they are like visions of a cool night wind. Best of all is to say that, when drinking a sufficient quantity of red wine, the experiencer of a parasphere discovers them to be a resource for deep imagining. Poems might happen tangentially. My impulse is to not let paraspheres dissolve and disappear into the Great Forgetting. They are atmospheres of art for some peculiar god’s sake.
But most paraspheres are too metaphysically trenchant and too astoundingly there to be subjects of or inspirations for poems.
This is such arcane aesthetic sphereology. Other than writing a poem weirdified by a parasphere, perhaps another way to convey that eccentric volume is to abstract its essence into the suggestion of a painting or the half-mad mood of a piece of music.
Posted by Tim Buck