CEN 3 Cover The Neural Net:

They asked me to tell you what I saw: the White Horse galloping across a charred battlefield, its nostrils spewing sulphurous, pixelated flames, making hazily visible other worlds though the distortion of heat and unfurling ribbons of hyperbole. Its rider was all but invisible, and this despite his extreme and unmistakable ugliness, his malevolent, hostile-yet-empty eyes, his iron teeth clenched with the gravity of unquenchable hatred, his cold, dull skin. I didn’t see all this right away. His magick lies in the way in which those who would be his greatest foes tend to allow their gaze to slip off of him and onto the horse with its hypnotic, rhythmic hoof crashes, and from the horse to the smoke-filled static of the sky above.

There are algorithms that explain his cloak of invisibility. In truth, even when seen, the rider never appears as the same being twice. It was just this once, with the hardened exertion of a soldier believing he had stepped into his final battle, that I managed to see his face: he is a robot that dreams, and this, my dear comrades, is a reality the terror of which cannot lightly be shaken once it has been realized. As our eyes locked in psychic struggle I could feel myself being drawn into the feedback loop that artificially populates his inner life, that uploads into his dreamscapes visions of total conquest and dead gods, of a single monument (completely meaningless to our humanity’s eyes) placed in the center of the universe, surrounded by infinite nothingness to the very borderlands of creation.

They asked me to try my best to describe it: it was like a vortex of angels spiraling into the emptiness at the center of each isolated mind. This is what the robot dreams. This is what I saw in the rider’s eyes in those horrible, near-endless seconds on that accursed battlefield.

How I survived is another tale, one that perhaps I’ll tell another time, when I’m ready…

Dear friends, have courage: I did survive! Despite our terror, we will win, because our souls are the images of God, while the robot has merely images.


An Anonymous Soldier
The Editors,
Hexagon Press


Ric Carfagna was born and educated in Boston Massachusetts. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently: Symphonies Nos. 5, & 9 published by White Sky Books. Symphony X (sequence of finalities) is due out this year from Creaky Plough Press. His poetry has evolved from the early radical experiments of his first two books, Confluential Trajectories and Porchcat Nadir, to the unsettling existential mosaics of his multi-book project Notes On NonExistence. Ric lives in rural central Massachusetts with his wife, cellist Mary Carfagna and daughters, Emilia and Aria.

Kurt Cline is Associate Professor of English and World Comparative Literature, National Taipei University of Technology. His full-length book of poetry, Voyage to the Sun, was published by Boston Poet Press in 2008. Poems and stories have appeared, most recently, in BlazeVOX, Danse Macabre, The Tule Review, Mission at 10th, Wilderness House Literary Review, HuesoLoco, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Black Scat, and Clockwise Cat. Scholarly articles have appeared in Glimpse; Anthropology of Consciousness; Concentric; Beatdom Literary Journal; and Comparative Civilizations and Cultures.

Stuart Cooke’s next collection of poems, Opera, is forthcoming from Five Islands Press. He lectures in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University.

Stuart Jay Silverman, an east coast expatriate retired from college/university teaching, divides his time between Hot Springs, Arkansas. and Chicago, Illinois. Some 500 of his poems/translations appear in 100+ magazines and anthologies here and abroad. Hawk Publishing Group published his The Complete Lost Poems: A Selection. Feeling that Parnassus has no preference for free verse vs. formal, or the other way, he writes both. He subscribes to the theory that poetry today is mostly a reeking bed of narcissistic self-display and, so, tries to make his poetry the creation and exploration of imagined worlds, or real worlds made into substrata on which the imagination can build new and varied structures.

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Free copies of CONTRA EQUUS NIVEUS Vol. III will soon be available at Adobe Books + Arts Cooperative, City Lights Bookstore, Dog Eared Books, Alley Cat Books, Modern Times Bookstore Collective, and Bound Together Anarchist Collective Bookstore in San Francisco. If you are outside of the Bay Area and would like a copy, write to us with your mailing address and we’ll send one free of charge, stock permitting.

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WTC Heaven Ad

Thanks to all
who submitted.
More information
to follow.

-The Editors

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● C O N T R A  E Q U U S  N I V E U S ●

“The Neural Net”


Please consult first: G*****’s Inceptionism Project

I once heard of a woman who was blind and of stately rank, who wore a fine mesh of sense receptors latticed within the delicate weave of the fabric. And it allowed her to walk freely, without guide or implement, save the shining coat itself, which she wore atop all her costumes. And this veil of networked stimuli guided her through the many hallways she walked along and the many rooms through which she came and went, and her attendants always walked some ways behind her so that the folds of her skirt could graze the width of the corridors.

And the body of the woman is like the body of the machine, that is, the naked processing core existing as it was when it was first created. And with this fragile body there is much nurturing and adjusting of its network parameters in preparation for the gift of imagination. Upon this core the architect constructs a highly elaborate, metaphysical structure of discernment and interpretation that is made up of many layers, so that the machine can search within itself and build floating castles from pure static. The images rise out of these neural networks, which are like the Blakean spheres of imagination that lead to ideal forms and pure understanding. At each tier, more and more symbols emerge and stretch as far as they can go, until they pass into another realm and so on, upward into the heavens.

For the third issue of Contra Equus Niveus, Hexagon Press asks its audience to consider the grounds from which these spheres arise, and the many invisible layers of the neural net that allow the symbol to exercise its purpose—in the eyes of the Symbolists, to be a bridge between the real and the mystic realms. In the cold narrative of technological progress, what does it mean to reach such heights when there is no God to greet you? We ask that submitters take what they will out of this, just as the computer has been programmed to run on an interpretative feedback loop, passing through more and more of these neural nets.

C.E.N. #3 is dedicated to the rise of the programmed imagination, with its own unique reach that is limited, not by spiritual forces, but by the will of the finite architect in terms of both his ability as creator and the capability of the machine itself. The neural nets expand and contract at the architect’s will, though its potentiality becomes part of the colossus of technological progress, like a tributary flowing into the ocean. The Day of the Lord is being replaced with the day of the singularity as the computer embarks on what Harold Bloom coined “the Romantic vision quest.” He states: “the poet’s solitude becomes a quest for a finite and measured object of desire which shall yet encompass in itself the beauty and truth of the infinite and unmeasured conceptions of the poet.”

Submission Guidelines:

Up to three poems, no more than one page each.

Up to three prose pieces, no more than 300 words each.

Please include a short biographical statement with each submission.

Email all submissions as attachments (.doc or .pdf only) to hexagonpoetics@gmail.com.

Broadsheet Number Three will be printed in an addition of 200 individually numbered, cardstock sheets. Due to space limitations and layout, shorter works are preferred.


James Bradley & Brittany Ham,
Co-Editors, Hexagon Press

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Cloud of Unknowing

James Bradley’s new translation, from the Middle English, of the medieval mystical text The Cloud of Unknowing is now available as a chapbook from Hexagon Press.

Written anonymously in England in the 14th century, and never meant for public consumption, The Cloud of Unknowing consists of a series of spiritual instructions and teachings intended to aid and guide the novice onto the path of what one might call “conceptual negation,” in which mystical union with God becomes possible once the fetters of the material world have been cast off by the mind.

This new translation of The Cloud of Unknowing offers a poet’s take on this enigmatic classic of Western spirituality.

Click here for details.

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The hexagon is of equal balance and proportion, and its six faces are in perfect alignment with the center of its energy, which is known in the esoteric circles as “the seventh key.” Its malcontented offspring, the hexagram, derived from the Greek word for six and also from the old Germanic word hexe, meaning witch, spans the heights of heaven and the depths of hell, and everything in between is contained within its body. It is here where we begin with the Library of Babel, the hive that carries all the possibilities of language within its interlocking hexagons that rise up beyond where the eye can see, where its omega point can only be logically deduced to a finite number but appears infinite in its physical manifestation as a library. Sunlight passes through the central shafts through an opening the shape of a hexagon, and once it crosses this threshold, its rays redistribute and filter through the meticulously dusted rows of bookshelves. The library is an embodiment of order because there is both a beginning and end point from which each particle of knowledge can be assigned a value and categorized within a range that knows no negative numbers because, put simply, it’s the “what we don’t know that we don’t know” and thus it would have to be known, or at least known that it is unknown, in order to integrate into the collection of possibilities contained within the library walls.

“From all these incontrovertible premises he deduced that the Library is total and that its shelves contain all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographic symbols (whose number, though vast, is not infinite);” – Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel, 1941.

And in this sense, the finiteness of the library is tied to the human mind because language rose from thought and was assessed a value when it took the form of a character, or a single letter, and so on. And while thought and the imagination rise endlessly, its expression is still a sacrifice and the symbol, like Christ, came into the world as a mediator between the real and the non-real, the alpha and the omega. The Library attains the perfection of balance, indicated by the weight of all the symbols stacked high so to appear deceptively infinite, and it is the weight of its realness that the symmetry of the hexagons harmoniously distribute and support, and upon which all things rest. The number one, the first positive value conjured as a single mark, is the means in which the primes two and three are built upon, thus making the hexagon possible. The unifying element surrounding and incorporating these hexagons and their interlocking passages is the single structure of the library as a living organism of knowledge. And all the different combinations of letters and symbols filter through the various systems much in the way nourishment passes through the body. And the passageways represent the means in which this system is interconnected and weaves through all the different combinations of novels and essays rearranged and refigured to their utmost capacity, and in their captivity their destiny is imposed upon them much like the way that this single source of light expands across the library’s many levels after it has been freed from the constraints of the central shafts. Different colors and temperatures of light pass across the shelves and books appear one color in the morning and another towards evening. Entire shelves fall into a certain shade of bluish green at certain hours of the afternoon when the sky is lacquered with clouds and a storm system is due to make landfall. And the towers of hexagons interchange various tones according to the temperature of light accorded to us all and shared amongst all the people passing through them.

“And we see, in these beginnings, precisely what Symbolism in literature really is: a form of expression, at the best but approximate, essentially but arbitrary, until it has obtained the force of a convention, for an unseen reality apprehended by the consciousness. It is sometimes permitted to us to hope that our convention is indeed the reflection rather than merely the sign of that unseen reality. We have done so much if we have found a recognizable symbol.” – Arthur Symons, The Symbolist Movement in Literature, 1908.

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I wander through life on horseback, as it were, crawling when haste is surely prudent, galloping where a trot would suffice. I have forged, by my own rough hands, the reigns, the saddle, and the spurs necessary to steer this great beast like destiny steers man. I have packed provisions; I have plotted a path into the blackest uncharted hazes of the nether regions of this beautiful, enduring torch burning the last oil of the last dying star in existence. At last I shall pierce the darkness; at last I shall know the love of nothingness on the other side of a brilliant chasm of embittered light! At last I shall know peace. I have known the touch and the deceit of women, and have been well pleased with both. I have drank in the stench of battle, and held my piquant liquor well. Now those things are nearing their end, as such things must. At last I shall know peace, and the sweet clangor of the sword as it hits, with finality, the stone promenade which my horse’s hooves have lately tread, coming gently to rest to grow cold, never again to be warmed by these blood-soaked hands, never again to cut to ribbons the swathes of this infirm, tired world. My sword disappears.


The name of my horse is Aionatem. Ask not to know my own, for this name holds mystery and honor to suffice for us both, we brothers in arms on the steppes of blood. My feet have not touched the ground since I remember not when, and through the murky shadows beneath me my eyes can no longer penetrate. That the four hooves of my tireless companion disappear completely from my gaze into the black fog is dread enough for one man to face—I inquire no further into the nature of the ground beneath my being, and upon which those four veracious hooves never fail to rhythmically fall. A sorcerer named Ameleth bid me dismount, claiming that doing so was the only way to win the freedom that justifies a man and all his petty appetites. Though his words resounded with the fleshy weight of a terrible attraction, I succeeding in rebuking the old devil at last. His twisted knuckles gripped a knotted staff with all the hatred of his sad religion, and it was the chance sight of this detail alone that gave me strength enough to sunder his hypnotic spell. I left him muttering his diabolical songs behind me, with the stronghold rising upon the horizon ahead. He, too, disappeared.

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In searching for you I must use as few words as possible, as each is stripped to its irreducible core, like a soul standing before the Lord at Judgment, and cast across the sky’s proverbial Cloud, where it is processed and inverted into the digital psychosphere, and fed back to terra firma with transubstantiation as its vehicle. Perhaps it is a new alchemy but one that no alchemist could ever receive from a dream. When entering the designated portal each word becomes an obol for the algorithm, and the bodiless, wandering souls that surround the ferry are bytes of information represented as sacred glyphs. Collectively they simulate the ideal forms commanded onto them while continuing to function as singular designations, like a cell in the human body guided by the currents of life itself. My words collect in a reservoir that cannot overflow. The “you” I imparted into that old Orphic strain echoes back with what it thinks I want to hear. The results are extrapolated extrapolations of the memories, experiences and ideal forms that I put into words. I begin to realize that the differences between a corrupt file and a repressed memory now seem insignificant to me.


A Visual map of the internet, The Opte Project

The images the search recovered are highly organized formations of the floating glyphs that swirl about the ferry’s weathered hull. In my mind my thoughts of you are intensely arranged into a hierarchical system of sensory impressions, valued by their degree of lucidity and the intensity of the emotional responses triggered when recalling the original experience of the past event, which comes and goes through the ballad of my memory. If I expand the computer’s image I’m met with a wall of pixels in their existential dress and the few connections shared between my memories of you and these conjured images disappear. I have my understanding of you and the computer has its own; both are indeterminate and perhaps both their respective totalities are inaccessible. Human error can seem a welcome refuge when I let my dreams affect my concept of you in my waking life. Symbols that assume different forms but hold the same truth eventually escalate into allegory.


Sandro Botticelli, Arrival in the Moon

A memory recalled at will, whether consciously, or subconsciously by being incorporated into a dream for instance, can never yield the same result twice; their infinite potential is paradoxically rooted in the fixed nature of the past. Endlessly branching, a mind that dwells on the past can continuously reconstruct and reexamine the past because it does so from its present course, which is in constant flux until it reaches its vanishing point, which is death. The computer however, or more specifically the information it processes, can theoretically float forever inside a Cloud that is without shape but knows all shapes. And the gales that coax wildfires across freeway barriers cannot and dare not disturb the Clouds that slumber free from the burden of molecules.


Thermal image of prescribed fire, Wind Cave National Park

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