Lie Down as Far as You Can You Are the Sky1
I arrive in Los Angeles by way of canyons and sunsets firing up the sky each night as we drive west, and finally enter the city one morning at the very beginning of the fall. It is the Year of the Snake and we are molting. As I sweat out autumn heats by day and stop in the streets no matter where I am as twilight comes on in rushing pinks and violet-blues, ushering in the night, I start to hear of gatherings. They happen Tuesday nights, I am told, in the living room of a steeply eaved house in Echo Park, and there are many who go there, and there is sometimes food and often drink. Artists and poets and thinkers and witches and dreamers and dancers and earthworkers and singers and many who are all of these at once are those who go there, and I learn something about categories in this city, and that is that they crumble. Shapes shift. I will not name the ones who gather but they will all know who they are (people are like things: they tend to modify when watched and secrecy makes play possible sometimes) but I will say that this all happens around the frothy brilliance of the inimitable Laurie Weeks and the wonder she brings to wordsmithing (what others might call writing). With her it is a seeking dream, where the forests are dark and fertile and the long night of the soul churns up gems you cannot imagine the shape or gleam of—or you can, and that is the fun of it. And that is why they gather, these many, in those ever-longing nights of fall in the year of the snake that sheds her skin: to put words on a page with each other with themselves and the energy from that living room with so many thinker inventor spirit seekers putting words on swirling pages together and alone is felt long blocks away in the house I am in on the streets they say are Silver Lake. And by winter I find myself—on Sundays now (for the gatherings have multiplied)—in the living room of the steeply eaved house, orange tomcats coming in and out of windows, a teapot shrilling on the range, as humans find seats on a piano’s bench or on the floor to nestle in with each other so that we might play with language. And some Thing happens here. There are thinkers who point out that when we gather to speak with one another, the fact that we are speaking with each other matters more than the specific things we say: that when we get together to figure things out, the importance is with the getting together (that may be the figuring out)—Derrida is one, Moten is another, and countless more. Lying down you feel more sky than you do when you stand up. The gathering is the Thing: when we scrape scratch our pens across our pages in the quiet of an other’s breathing, finding words to suit our senses (this form of thinking writing makes), we remember we remind that language speaks the real. And language bends.
1. Dylan Mira, quoted from a personal email to the author, July 13, 2015.
LITIA PERTA is a writer and teacher living in Los Angeles and teaching at the University of California, Irvine. She is interested in transformation, and in collaborating with others to develop innovative ways (pedagogical, linguistic, theoretical, economic, spiritual, poetic) to support the transformations we came here to live through.