allegiance: n; The creative life is founded on the understanding that one’s allegiance to this world is partial.


autumn: n; 4. A day comes when every leaf realizes that what it thirsts for is not to be found in trees.


commitment: n; 2. The commitment we have made to the visual and our inability to refuse any of its solicitations
results in a very real physical exhaustion as well as a moral listlessness. The extent of our pathology eludes us
and barely audible is our complaint— I see too much.


complicity: n; There is a point at which one becomes complicit with the sadistic impulses of one’s jailer, or one’s
interrogator— this point is birth.


consolation: n; 2. We are born with access to two doors. One of them is suicide, the other is creativity. The fact
that sometimes the door of creativity opens onto a room where one finds only the door to suicide is an architectural
peculiarity that is neither cruel nor significant.


divergence: n; In my words you can hear the receding footsteps of the one you have come to meet.


elaboration: n; 2. A human life is a ceaseless elaboration of a most bitter and unbearable truth. Every act, every
thought, every dream, is an evasion. Our personal history is nothing but a desperate re-articulation of the
universal that we were born into. From the certainty that was an audience to our inaugural wailing we derive
generalities and further generalities; we propose that what is is what might be; ultimately we seek to erect a
dubious subjectivity— a lie that could not be more bold— which we will accept as true. We can bear a truth
which is no truth at all— and this is our strength.


evolution: n; 3. The fittest do not survive. 4. It is one thing to evolve as a response to a stimulus, or an
environmental insult. It is quite another thing to evolve beyond the effects of such a stimulus or insult.
To develop such a specific insensitivity to a previously demanding stimulus is precisely how evolution leaps.
5. To be perfectly adapted to a contemptible situation is not a form of progress.


goodness: n; When we refer to a person’s goodness we are remarking on their relative success in obscuring
their inherent baseness.


home: n; 4. I have found my home when I can participate in the nightmare of humanity with a clear conscience.


incompatibility: n; 2. It is often the case that a writer will get the title right but will unfortunately have written
the wrong book.


intention: n; 6. Our so-called good intentions are the most effective means of keeping us from effecting good.


lie: n; 3. A lie is how the truth seeks immortality.


martyr: n; 5. Where a martyr ends a tyrant begins.


poet: n; 60. The incommunicability of the earned privilege of poetic experience is what the poet communicates.
61. What begins in the poet must never end there. 62. The poet exists in the general and the particular legibly,
coherently. His journey back and forth is impossibly rapid, so much so it seems as though he inhabits both
places simultaneously. Silence is the sound of his progress. Eventually his language, worn smooth by so
much back and forth movement, rolls down the slightest incline and continues towards an eternity that will
welcome it. 63. The poet who insists that no other writing is possible, the poet who refuses to explore any other
literate possibility, is one who forgets that it is possible to masturbate with the other hand.


present: n; 2. The present is the name of our battle with what is not.


punishment: n; 3. To punish is to challenge someone to remember; to endure punishment is to refuse every
opportunity to forget. 4. In punishing we inaugurate the possibility that the punished might survive himself—
the horror of it.


question: v; 7. The question is not important for the answer which may succeed it, but for the possibility
that will survive it. 8. Sometimes a question is an involuntary convulsion of our despair.


slogan: n; 2. A slogan is evidence that thinking has pawned all of its possessions


society: n; A man will consent to being destroyed by society because, were he to live outside of society,
he would be destroyed.


talent: n; 2. It is not the lack of talent that is blameworthy, but rather the dedicated pursuit and exploitation of
one’s lack of talent— in the name of a career— that is damnable. 3. Talent is not a pardon from hard work,
but its guarantee.


tragedy: n; 5. A poet does not fall in love, a poet falls completely through love— and it is for this reason that
such love can only be tragic. The poet who falls through love continues to fall. A poet is always falling
through time, but in love, there is a witness
. For the one left behind, for the lover who remains, the hole
the poet created as he broke through love— nostalgia, that is the name of this rupture— is the most they can
expect to love.


victory: n; If it is impossible to defeat a world that is fanatical in its determination to force all into its dark
and suffocating objectifications, is resisting such forces the only victory that is possible, or is this belief in
one’s fortitude the very mark of one who has been broken and defeated?


vision: n; 7. Absolute radiance and absolute darkness are equivalent for those who lack the ability to see.


write: v; 9. What we do not write for those do exist, we write for those who do not exist.





from Invigorations

(recent excerpts from A Personal Dictionary) 

Mike Schertzer, 2008