Will Alexander

from 'The Coming Mental Range' (Litmus Press), the title essay, with commentary by Jerome Rothenberg

All error proceeds from ignorance (or haste)

— Fernando Pessoa


Our circumstance is fouled by protracted haste, by that which

aspires to some form of clinical security. I am thinking of the quest

to inhabit Mars within a foreseeable time frame. The question arises,

does susurration amongst the Northern elite strive for an isolate

colony where populace from the Southern cone is surgically omitted?

This is something to contemplate given the prevailing wreckage that

now consumes all corners of the Earth rife with chronic patterns of

extinction that ranges from the condition of bees to the ominous

breakage of icebergs, to the volatile scattering of humans from refuge

to refuge. A daunting condition to say the least. So what Elon Musk

proposes seems as pointed towards the future as some multi-planetary

exercise. Yet, in our present context it feels at bottom as if it were

nothing other than a skittish trope grasping for salvation for the

financially appointed.

The zeitgeist persists across what I consider to be an expanding terminal

phase, with our basic neurology being called into question.

Human crossing of the solar system seems escape beyond the calliope

that remains continuing earthly dread. It feels as though the void

implies our every breath. History being nothing other than a concert

that re-patterns each of our momentary efforts. This remains the gist

for all outward escape.


History via our continuing terror combines terminal posturing

bringing forth the chemistry of wealth and speculation transmitted

as synecdoche confined to the shadowy urn we understand to be

the one percent. The latter populace crowned in the collective subderma

by enforced consensus. In the end, the one percent exists as

none other than elite refugees themselves seeking escape from the

planetary wreckage they have so willfully spawned. With the secular

state now barely alive as a graceless sub-functioning order, with

each of its individual components functioning as none other than

particularized sub-functioning fiefdoms. The latter being none other

than a moribund cellular confine, incapable of spontaneous electricity

sans the power of transmutation. Such a state is not inclined towards

movement via sattvic acreage in the cells. I am thinking of such

acreage as transparence with its impalpable planes of respiration, not

unlike Cantoresque sub-infinities allowing the body to transmute as

a state into what I’ll call shamanic vulcanism. This is where the cells

take on capability that ignites as transhuman possibility so that gulfs

between voids become open to something other than acquiescent

consumption, or the individual being stunted by its own self-erasure.

At best, the collective has become conditioned to aspiring to brokered

animal limit, to nothing other than experience as a briefly wrought

body amassed through dysfunctional assemblage.


Within this wrought consensus there remains among a small gist

of the populace the desire to export this dysfunction to a Martian soil

torrential with in-audia and howling, attempting to replicate the error

that remains the Anthropocene. To create through this replication a

compound solar error is none other than unconscionable exploration.

If the specific honings of the Asteroid probes and similar attempts

amount to nothing other than cosmic land speculation and graft, we

have, in the end, wrought only a more pointed punctuation that

signals further outgrowth of the tamasic.


As for the looming prospect of a human colony on Mars it remains

the target of immediate saturation leading to completion. Again, private

moguls reign via Blue Origin, SpaceDev, New Shepard, Virgin

Galactic, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, being momentary figurines that

seem solely concerned with exteriorized result. For instance, there

remains telling silence concerning the inner dimension of the soul,

their quest seems willing to ignore the soul and its confrontation

with the Martian scape and its unrelenting weather cycles as they

consume the body ultimately stranding its carcass on alien plateaus.

The violence that accrues from such inclement isolation has not yet

been considered. Highly efficient rocket boosters and possible “pizza”

lodgings, the latter having been enunciated in passing as foreshortened

ancillary effect of a stated industrial goal.


What the Egyptians understood as being the seven parts of the soul

has been subsumed by the sterility that looms as business venture as

momentary profit. This will not suffice. If what is true of numerically

projected galaxies ranging between two-hundred million at the low end, and

two trillion at the high end, this is an overwhelming range that can

never be sufficiently explored by an ambitious but delimited techne.

In the deepest sense this seems a marked derangement that projects,

in my view, a reality that seems parallel as accessible analogy to the

experimental implosion that was Roanoke. This is the template that

seems to configure the Mars mission or any other similar configuration

or any of the asteroids that portend mineral extraction. The latter

policy persists as commercial projection.


The point that seems to naturally accrue is one of missing inner

respiration. There is the implementation of Musk’s BFR rocket, with

its powerful boosters lifting the body outside of its earthly habitation,

yet never having discussion concerning the volcano that invigourates

the soul. Thus, exo-missions seem compromised by a kind of abstract

sterility, by the passage of life as sightless enterprise. When the Arctic

shaman Aua speaks of “‘quamaneq’... the shaman light of brain and

body” this is something that Space X, or SpaceDev or Blue Origin

has so far failed to consider. They possess a glossary compelled by

quantification, by palpable excess honed in principle by micrometer.

This being the state of official exploration, subtending itself via

suicidal psychic clauses, via delimited transmission of psycho-physical

food stuffs, and the result, a soullessness propounded via inclement

animation, not unlike its homing ground of Euro-American cellular

malaise, bereft as it is of the coming mental range, this latter range having

at its heart the insight of the soul and its registration beyond quanta.


[From forthcoming publication by Litmus Press, copyright © 2023 by Will Alexander]



For me, language, by its very operation, is alchemical, mesmeric, totalic in the way that it condenses and at the same time proves capable of leaping the boundaries of genre. Be it the drama, the poem, the essay, the novel, language operates at a level of concentration modulated by the necessity of the character or the circumstance which is speaking. My feeling is that language is capable of creating shifts in the human neural field, capable of transmuting behaviors and judgments. (W.A.)


A lifelong resident of Los Angeles, Alexander was till late in his career very little published, but his work has since opened up to assessments of his special and far-reaching view, like that, e.g., by Eliot Weinberger: “His work resembles no one’s, and is instantly recognizable. In part, he is an ecstatic surrealist on imaginal hyperdrive. He is probably the only African American poet to take Aimé Césaire as a spiritual father (and behind Césaire, Artaud, and Lautréamont). But he is also a poet whose ecstasy derives from scientific description of the stuff and the workings of the world.”

Or Alexander, from his own perspective — a journey through distanced worlds of inner time and space: “To see from this disk, I am cleansed with grounded facial negatives, with bone coloured writing, with vocal bone spur chemistry, with rapier crusades, with hunchback conjunctions, spurred by verbal star belt eternities.”


[From J. Rothenberg and Javier Taboada, A Book of Americas, University of California Press, scheduled: 2024]