Counter Perspectives

Enjoy the essay. Find Phoenix at http://amazon.com/author/phoenix_rises

As I have often expressed, life is a complicated affair. There are many reasons for that assessment.

But we work on it. We do what we can. That is all we can do. I have learned through time to be more open to life and its challenges, though I admit that it is very easy for me to get lost in my mind, and focus on too many things that I can’t control to begin with. Obviously this is an understandable instinct, I am trying to solve life, so to speak, I’m trying to understand. But there is a way in which I may not ultimately understand. I’ve tried to accept the gray areas, the unknowns, the confusing details, the disconnections. It has taken time, but I’ve gotten better at it.

It does seem to be part of the way that I think, that my thinking becomes melancholic, and it definitely questions things. But I don’t see this as a bad thing, in most cases, I don’t feel that I overthink things too often, I am just trying to understand the world better.

I do try to understand the world, of course. I try to explore life, and my life, and all of the things around me, science, literature, society: I am determined to try to understand the things around me, even if it seems to be out of my reach sometimes.

There are a lot of things I don’t understand. I have thought recently a lot about incompatible views, when people don’t get along, when people arrive to contradictory or even impossible points of view, and it can be a very difficult thing to have to navigate. I have had conflict with some people in my life, and that has been difficult for me, because part of that conflict seems to come from a deep difference in viewpoints, a wildly separate way of approaching the world. This can be tough to navigate at times.

I have no struggle with diverse points of view, but I get concerned when you aren’t able to reason with people, and to converge on a single point, to things that you might agree on, or at least be able to put aside most of it, in order to move forward. Part of the difficulty with this for me, is that it seems that sometimes you just don’t understand another perspective. With most of my good friends, we are easily able to work out our differences, but there are other people that I have encountered in life. where conflict seems to just be baked into the dynamic. I wouldn’t say that conflict is bad in and of itself, necessarily, but I worry whenever there is no converging point or meeting of the minds, where people aren’t able to understand each other and at least be on the same page. I suppose whether I like it or not, that baffles me.

I have a hard time with the way in which we often moralize. While I wouldn’t say that morality is completely dependent on relative processes, I do think that it is very easy for people in different places in life, to come to vastly different conclusions from either the mainstream or from the people around them. I have thought about my own morality, and how I have not wanted to push it on other people, and how with my art, I have wanted to be open-minded, and think about all the things that I could potentially say and express, without having to explicitly believe it. These questions to me are very important, because I have felt as though it is easy for me to buck up against the mainstream. I have wondered if my thought process is just too different from the norm; to use the phrase of an old friend, I am an intellectual outsider.

Of course I don’t always wish to be an outsider, and I would say that I need to express my own views. But it does seem to me that sometimes part of that incompatibility comes from me personally having a perspective that not everybody understands. My experiences have led me to have such an encounter with the world, as to arrive to my own contradictory views, and it is complicated and confusing that my experiences don’t make sense to many people. I don’t always know what to do with it, but it is certainly something that I think about.

I am hopeful in a lot of ways, though. Even though I am amazed at the strong views and contradictory perspective that seem to exist all around me, and even though I don’t understand most of them, I am hopeful that I can still continue to articulate my vision, in whatever way that means, whether with art, conversation, career, or through my actions. I think that there is value in that. I think there is value in trying to represent and present your best self in the context where it really matters. I suppose I’m hopeful, then, that I feel as though I will be able to express important facts about my life, and that I will be able to express my curiosity and desire to learn and grow.

There are many times where I have no idea what I’m doing. There are many times where I reminisce on too many things that I feel as though I don’t have. There are many times where I make comparisons with others, where I feel lost, where I feel sad. But ultimately, I try to maintain the idea that I’m doing something worthwhile, and even if life messes with me sometimes, it is all in good fun, because there is still much hope, and I shouldn’t forget this. I am amazed at how creativity can be such a life-saving force, because it allows us to express our own point of view, and you also transform the world around you.

We are in the year 2021, and the world has changed a lot over the past decade or so. Politics, society, life, civilization: so many things are different now, even if so many things are also the same. We have been fighting our way through a pandemic for well over a year now, and we are seeing some of the effects of global warming. In Utah alone, we are experiencing heat warnings and a drought. People seem to be more divided socially and ideologically than ever before in some ways, and we are constantly hating social media, and sometimes technology, for its power and grip on society. And many people still argue over capitalism, and it seems sometimes that we reach no converging point or consensus.

There are many other concerns as well. My main point is to focus on how, living in the year 2021, we have to focus on creating value, and doing things that can help the world, even if only a little bit. While it is really confusing to know what to do sometimes, doing something to make the world better seems to be a worthwhile perspective. It’s not easy, it’s not clear, but I see people working on it all the time, and that gives me much hope and optimism.

Of course I don’t have all of the answers, and these are only my reflections and speculations. I can’t necessarily know what to do with the strangeness of reality itself, and of society, and of human beings. I have learned that these things don’t always need to be filtered through such a skeptical lens, that it is okay to accept something on its own terms. And I know that I am doubtful sometimes, which is why I have been trying to work towards a less pessimistic point of view.

While I know that not everybody will always understand my point of view, that of which will sometimes lead to conflict or an incompatibility in the relationship, I’m still hopeful that I can express my best point of view, and that the people that get what I’m trying to say, will find it meaningful, and it will be a step in the right direction to make things better in life, for those we love and those we serve. None of it is easy to deal with, struggling with contradictory viewpoints is very difficult, but I know that I am not going to give up, because I care about articulating something of value and meaning.

It seems to me that there is a way forward, then. It can be difficult sometimes, it can feel as though there is no purpose. But more and more, I continue to build something, construct something. My life’s work, my life project. More and more, I continue to try and make the world better in some small way, and I don’t give up on the things that mean a lot to me and that provide meaning for other people. People understand eventually, and those that won’t, it is okay, because they will be just fine. Part of it for me, then, sees the utility in a charitable attitude towards viewpoints I don’t always understand. To let the world exist as it does, and not force it to converge with your point of view. Believe me, I don’t always like this realization, but I find it to be helpful for at least letting go of things that are out of my control. Conflict is inevitable, and you can’t escape struggle in life. I may encounter ideas that I don’t like or understand, but I will continue to process them. I will continue to move forward.

Path

Enjoy the poem. Find Phoenix at http://amazon.com/author/phoenix_rises

everything [through]

a strange reality

everything 

(an) missed opportunity 

too much

a brave realization

I often forget (I)

I’m not so

readily apparent or ready to read

these strange poems [I compose]

of chance

and all the things

I keep desiring

what I want

is a vague attraction

a hesitation

I move through

my favorite 

words to speak

I speak often

of all these

possibilities 

I see

and imagine

[everything through]

help me to see

deeper meanings

my own creations

all that I desire

help me to understand 

[help—me to see—

truth]

I want to see

the truth

but I don’t decide that—

; path

NASA

Enjoy the poem. Find Phoenix at http://amazon.com/author/phoenix_rises

white blue red favorite shirt

dirt

cheap hurt

all the dead words

that we insert 

into our brainwashed minds

existing insane

within

existing

at all

triple fall

words we speak through the violence

we repeat

thoughts we stop

that we defeat

thoughts we prevent

it’s a constant trick

uptick fake and quick

can’t talk

or exist

or flourish

the same styles we revile

and revamp

recertify and stamp

the same 

harm we cause with 

our own hand 

beat bloody blue bruised dreams and

won’t repent

or repeat

or feel anything 

anything we may block

for being

too off track

another trick

it’ll work it

works and

that hurts

stop me for sport blood

sport

can’t keep track of it

another trick I 

sell out always

want more of it

to feel good

to feel wanted

to want anything I might want

I’m grateful for that

but you missed the point

of my whole words

and free poems

and star theories and 

planet promises like black holes

I wanted something else

something not so 

clear

maybe

not so obvious

but still special

to see

a star

or maybe develop a theory 

that could repair

the trauma of our 

world

thoughts of the galaxies

and entire moralities

to see it all somehow

I wanted more

I wanted more from you

I wanted to be me

I wanted to show you something

I wanted to see the universe

not just bought a dirt cheap shirt but I just repeat myself unsure:

I wanted a trip 

outside of the universe

that we make.

Logic (A Poem)

Enjoy. Find Phoenix at http://amazon.com/author/phoenix_rises

e

E = MC

calculate the risk like in physics

r

r

rar(e) w-rong 

word-

id 

deep psychological stuff

not enough

I’ve I 

I’d

feel too much of a cutthroat LOGIC

dead code 

code dead

wrap

your head around

(un)sound argument 

sad I’ve felt 

I have(

lost nearly everything I ever cared about

good intent-ions

to feel

e

E

E-verything and light isn’t squared

right—

word

id word dead 

I’d (CODED)

believe anything to feel better

a

a A destruction of Action —

(*relinquish)*

I communicate nothing

getting by with

E AN

ounce of pain eON

hurt

anyway and unchange

a tornado spinning in my head A UFO

life

the lie (like)

lost outside symbol-ism cold from

a lack of wisdom—

it might seem similar.. It’s not

too much 

of words we’ve lost.

This poem was about logic but feeling crushed is not logical.

spirit

Enjoy the poem. Find Phoenix at https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix/e/B00QEL41LS

I derail

thought of (implicit Hell)

made a place

to be and see

to think of no reality 

style

indifferent or apathetic

risk took

or just another dead spirit

dead

flood 

of

bitter blood

unstable soul

too cold

I invent an entire reality in my head

to break

my own rhythms and my

corrupted systems

trying to imagine

but feeling too much

of my own

self-censor

sweet words and song that

makes me feel

wrong

sweet

sweet song 

I can’t philosophize through

my own create

create

creative lies

I

want something anyway

without knowing why

my

bitter blood

feud with

a corrupting flood

dead 

guitar chord

thoughts as black as my

false god

all

the words I want to                           split down the middle

because 

I don’t care

I don’t care anymore

spark of divinity made

to be dark like

the corruption of 

spirited insight

bitter bitter

free flight

made

f

r

e

e

f

a

l

l

sensitive to nothing and

cold spirit and

dead spirited response 

do I say anything again

or just 

hold

back

never held

mood

and this bitter bitter blood 

sweet song 

a flood

I just want to feel at home

in

a brutal shade of poem:

I’ve lost track again.

The Unlimited (from Griffin Feathers)

Find Phoenix at http://amazon.com/author/phoenix_rises

Enjoy this excerpt from Phoenix’s novel Griffin Feathers. Enjoy the YouTube reading below.

Like I said before, English class was the time when me and my friends could all be together. Ever since we’d worked it out with The Punk, things had been a lot smoother, and a lot more enjoyable.

            Which, naturally, would be perfect, for more than one reason. But definitely because I was sure that things were going to heal if The Punk kept doing what he was doing.

            We were all sitting outside, enjoying each other’s company. Maxwell was telling a joke, and making us laugh a million miles an hour, and it was perfect. I honestly couldn’t ask for more.

            Then the bell rang, signaling for us to get to class.

            Maxwell finished his joke as we walked toward the class, and then we all sat down together. I felt as though nothing could tear us apart. Our friendship was unlimited, our care for each other endless. It felt good.

            Ms. Burns went to the front of the class, and said, “All right, you guys, you trouble makers, you punks, you hoodlums … today we’re going to talk about a theory of literature that’s been floating around recently.”

            Ms. Burns paused. I looked around and saw that all of us were at the edge of our seats, which made me smile. We loved anything Ms. Burns taught. We loved the mystery. How could we not? She was intelligent and savvy. She was awesome, to put it bluntly. She was good with kids.

            “There’s a theory floating around,” Ms. Burns began, “about the unlimited text and the limited text. I’m going to talk mostly about the unlimited text, but it would probably be helpful to know about the limited text, so you have a source of comparison.”

            I looked at my friends, and saw that they were still at the edge of their seats. Even The Punk was, and he never got that excited about this stuff.

            “There is a novel called The Street Kid, which tells the story of Phoenix.”

            “Yeah, that’s my world,” Maxwell said proudly.

            “I would say,” Ms. Burns continued, acknowledging Maxwell with a nod, “that that is a limited text. It’s a limited text because, if you look at the writing, it’s very … I don’t want to say convoluted, but … mentally complicated. And that’s not even including the actual structure of the novel, which is indeed complex, what with the way that stream of consciousness thoughts mix in with stream of consciousness narrative in interrupting and seamless ways, which I imagine would be difficult to follow, the way the thoughts meander. But the novel follows the viewpoint of Phoenix, who is split in many ways, and complicated, because he can’t even figure out what reality and fiction is. He can’t figure out, who he is. Not to mention the fairly large cast of characters that are probably hard to follow, and even the writing itself, which is a little … elevated. Those elements make up the limited text. Essentially, a limited text is anything that is complex in certain ways, whether it’s the language, the plot, etc. etc. Are you guys following me so far?”

            “Loud and clear,” Maxwell said.

            “Now, anyway, the unlimited text, would be … oh, I would say, a story kind of like: Griffin’s story.”

            I wasn’t sure what to think of this. I lived in an unlimited text? I wanted Ms. Burns to continue, all of this was extremely fascinating.

            “An unlimited text is a text that is extra good with characterization, where you can practically imagine the characters as living real lives. Unlimited texts carry a large degree of innocence with them, and a little bit of heartache. Usually, unlimited texts are narrated by a kid, but not always, and they are usually stronger in first person, to capture the immediacy of the character, but not always. Plenty a good unlimited text has been written in third person.”

            “Why does it have to be good at characterization?” The Punk asked.

            “Because the characters are what make the story. They are the story. In the limited text, that aspect can be experimented with a little bit. Characters can simply be caricatures, or metaphors, or symbols, and the like. Not always, but they can be. An unlimited text has succeeded if you can see a character you’re reading about walking around in your mind, and walking around in the supposedly fictional space they occupy. The goal of the unlimited is fully realized if you see them walking around in the real world.”

            I absorbed all of this information, like water to a dry sponge. I was fascinated by the idea of the limited and unlimited text.

            “In contrast to the limited text, the unlimited text seeks to be simple. Not necessarily as simple as possible, and not necessarily in the sense that it has no complexity at all … but, it’s still simple. And it has to be simple, if it’s trying to describe child-like things, innocent things, kid things. But that doesn’t mean the unlimited text isn’t complex in other ways. It’s complex in the sense that it constantly has to remind the reader that they are reading about an innocent kid, or reading about innocence, or just reading about something that’s … awesome. It’s a text that puts humans in a positive light, showing off the vulnerabilities of the average person.”

            “Following that logic,” Maxwell said, “I should be in an unlimited text.”

            “Why do you say that?” Ms. Burns asked.

            “Because that’s all Phoenix’s world is about, is about that vulnerability. You see it in Phoenix, and you see it in other characters. I know I have an innocent side to me, will always have that side, and so just because I’m in a language-rich, language-complex, world, doesn’t mean that I’m also not in an unlimited text.”

            “I see your point,” Ms. Burns said, “and I’m not even going to disagree with you. But for the sake of understanding the stark contrast between the two, try to see The Street Kid as a limited text, and Griffin’s world, or Griffin Feathers, as an unlimited text.”

            I could see what Ms. Burns was trying to do. Not stick something as being one way or the other, but showing that by looking at things a certain way, we could understand unique things about the world, and about literature.

            I felt excited, at the prospect that I was living in an unlimited text. I liked to think that I was with innocent people. Good people. There was something comforting about that. And it seemed to be the case, in many ways. My friends were innocent. Even The Punk had an innocent side … perhaps one harder to describe, but it was still there.

            “But one thing you need to understand about the unlimited text is that it’s evasive,” Ms. Burns continued.

            “What do you mean?” Maxwell said.

            “What do I mean?” Ms. Burns paused, and went to her bookshelf and pulled out a copy of The Street Kid. She said, “The problem with limited texts is that they are tangible. Maybe not mentally, because of how complex they are, but … literally. So, Maxwell, you could very well say that I’m holding this book, right?”

            Maxwell nodded.

            “An unlimited text is exactly the opposite. Limited texts seek to be real by being as super-intelligent as possible, as complex as they can possibly be. The unlimited seeks to get people to feel. But feel what? Rather, it seems that while the unlimited text can possess technical, structural, even experimental traits, things that are indeed mechanical, like good characterization, they also seek to capture the unlimited. They seek to capture a feeling that has a mind of its own. It’s too simple to say that an unlimited text is just about innocence. And while that’s true, it seems that the unlimited text is something that is ultimately intangible, the way it needs to be. But it is something that makes you feel good about humanity, for various reasons, of course, and depending on the text … but they do actually exist in that way, if that makes sense.”

            Maxwell jumped to his feet. “I get it!”

            “What do you get, Maxwell, dear?” Ms. Burns asked.

            “I see why it has to be intangible, Miss,” Maxwell said.

            “Would you like to explain for the class?” Ms. Burns said.

            Maxwell nodded his head, and began: “The unlimited is, in some ways, though this is an oversimplification, is … love. And true love for another human being, is … intangible. The unlimited text isn’t about showing off how smart you are, but showing the reader, or reflecting in the reader, things like love. Empathy. Compassion. Kindness. Kid-ness. Perhaps even to the point of pain. And that’s why I think The Street Kid is also an unlimited text, though it will probably be pigeonholed forever as a limited text, a mere cerebral exercise. Though Phoenix is a real person.”

            “Well, certainly no disagreement from me,” Ms. Burns said. “Crazily enough, I think I agree with you, about the unlimited, and why it’s more of an idea that can be felt, an emotion that can be appreciated, rather than just words on a page that create a particular effect.”

            I definitely appreciated Maxwell’s take on the unlimited text, and I had to admit, it made a lot of sense to me. The unlimited was something that could only be felt, not intuited rationally.

            Painter had something to say about exactly that: “It reminds me a little bit of Eastern, ancient Chinese philosophy.”

            “In what ways, Painter?” Ms. Burns asked.

            “In the sense that we shouldn’t always intuit our world around us through the logical means. That’s why I think art is so important, because it doesn’t always have to be about logic. It can be, to the point of murder, even, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Sometimes it can get you to simply feel, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

            “Very astute observation, Painter,” Ms. Burns said. “And I think your reference to Chinese philosophy is very relevant here.”

            “But it is its own thing, though,” Painter clarified. “It has to be. I’ve never heard of this unlimited theory, anywhere. But it’s fascinating.”

            “Well, it doesn’t get taught a lot,” Ms. Burns said, “but I thought you guys might like some literary theory with your literature. And that is actually the assignment. What I’d like all of you to do is go to your local library and find books that fit into the unlimited and limited category. You don’t have to read the whole book, just pick up a few books and read a passage or two, and if it seems to go one way or the other, note it. Your assignment is to find one limited text and one unlimited text, and write why it makes you feel that way.”

            It didn’t sound like too hard of an assignment, and I had to admit, I definitely wanted to go and look and see if I could find the limited and unlimited in literature. I thought the dichotomy between the two texts was interesting, and I could write a whole paper about that, if I wanted to.

            I decided I would leave such a task to Painter, since he was the brilliant analyst of these things.

            “So I guess that’s why the text is considered limited,” Painter said. “Because, we are limited by what we try to pinpoint as tangible. Intelligence can ultimately only go so far, but emotion … that can go a million different ways.”

            “Yes, definitely, Painter, that … I agree with for sure,” Ms. Burns said. “Personally, I like unlimited texts better, but I of course appreciate the beauty of the limited text. Writers like Shakespeare probably wouldn’t have the same weight if they weren’t limited, of course.”

            We talked about the two different texts, the binary, for a few more minutes, and then the bell rang.

            I knew that now we needed to go our separate ways, to go to our next class, but The Punk caught me off guard when he came up to me and said, “I think that was why I felt uncomfortable by you at first, Griffin.”           

            “What do you mean?” I asked, not sure what The Punk was talking about.

            “I saw power in the limited text, in having the most brains, in having the strongest brawn and might … but you, my friend, are a walking unlimited text, and I think I was intimidated by that brilliance. There is brilliance in the unlimited text, you know, even if the goal is more about the beauty of simplicity. And I think that just wasn’t appreciated by me.”

            “Well, thank you, Punk,” I said.

            I must say, this compliment caught me off guard. I knew that The Punk was changing, becoming nicer, but this compliment was still very kind-hearted.

            “I think I was trying to turn Kip into a limited text, because I felt like a limited text myself,” The Punk continued. “But I don’t want to do that anymore. I can’t say I won’t stop smoking, but I won’t smoke around Kip anymore. Hopefully he’ll get the message.”

            I felt enormously relieved at this, and smiled at The Punk. “That would be amazing, my good friend.”

            “It’s the least I can do. I’m starting to repent from my ways, realizing how much chaos and unneeded destruction I’ve caused. I think a little bit is inevitable. I’m an anarchist libertarian for a reason, you know. But, on the same token, I should have respected your guys’s unlimited nature more. Painter is so unlimited he could probably paint the whole world. And that’s just Painter. All of you are unique in your various ways, and it’s incredible. That’s all I wanted to say.”

            Then before I could say anything, The Punk was off.

fire

Enjoy the poem. Find Phoenix at http://amazon.com/author/phoenix_rises

I exist.

in everything .

—maybe

darker routes

confusing 

paths.

My style is chaos ,

I envision fire

burning me

like everything

like all the burning in me

the pain from flame

a complete lack of regard

yeah it’s hard—

the e-motion of too much time

I lose track of 

beauty. trick

try and

make it

it’s crazy how these things change all the time

but such

whole realities

are out of my control

like a conjunction of

bad days such a bad day

I am a butterfly made

dead by

beauty and bad

bad

days

and fire

the fire

rewrite

rewire 

response

inspire

I’m sorry for the complexity the falsity

the way that my entire path

confounds such an expectation

of change

of

it’ll , feel the same

without knowing why

fly

dead 

bad day

a butterfly

The beauty of storms in a hurricane chaos

the structure 

of every rupture

losing track losing

trick— [of what you.

need

a sensitivity of meaning

crises ..

and so much doubt

to be

cracked by circumstance

by my own recognition

of what this is a fire I need inspire.

Don’t

hold me back

brutal bleed or

angst pain pangs anxiety 

I’m sorry about the lack of aesthetics

but it’s not really another one of my tricks

it’s the truth that I snuff out my own 

FIRE

( fire )—

where I lose track

of the flame from too much pain 

but it’s not

Like the (fire

DOESN’T STILL BURN!!!!