This poem, by the modernist San Francisco poet, Robin Blaser is the source of the word "otherous" (in the very first line) which we talked about a great deal on our recent Holy Island retreat (October 2022).
The experience of "otherousness" is one that breaks us out of the tedious centrifuge of our self-obsessed thoughts and imaginings and wakes us up from the 'trance of self' into something fresh. It could be a bird in a room, an accident, a fragment of music or a snippet of conversation heard on the street corner.
We were astonished, one afternoon on the Island as we were discussing this, when a robin (the poet's namesake) flew into the room and circled all of our little discussion groups before landing on my head! A vivid experience of otherousness in action.
the truth flies hungry, at least and otherous,
of which—though it may be one—Kafka said troublingly,
it has many faces
the faces one wants, tripping the light shadows of its
skin colours of its wordy swiftness, angry and solvent,
of its loud remarks
as of feeding flocks one
year, one, among the smallest birds in the Northwest, flew
into the house a darting, panic thought at the walls
and grasses perched on the top right corner of the frame
of Tom Field’s painting wherein adulterous Genji is found
out—so Lady Murasaki reads from her blue scroll—and
permitted me to take it in my hand soft, intricate
mind honouring and lift it out into the air
and the next year, again, one flew into the house,
almost certain, like a visitor, gold-crowned winged
floating about odd discoveries and alighted on the brim
of the lasagna dish my hand trembled as I took it up
and moved slowly to lift it out of the window into
the air a kind of thinking like everybody else
looking for a continuing contravention of limits and