James Meador

Observe This Service


I came across this on Usenet (alt.alt?) back in 2002 or thereabouts. The original post is long gone of course, but I saved a copy and thought it was worth sharing here given this issue's theme. -J.M.






I began to Observe this Service as a reminder to myself. The Service was the reminder, as I needed reminding to Observe it. Yet the reminder had to change so as to remain effective, and the result of many years' efforts have gradually congealed in a system adequately constructed to assure constancy of change in the right form and proportion. As time passed it also became clear that others might find this Service in order. I include a few notes here to introduce the Service to those for whom it may yield some of the benefits it has me.

What follows is the simplified or Perpetual Service, consisting in two parts. The more complex or Iterative Service includes additional phases for addition and deletion of Service phrases, liturgy, interruptions, premature Re-Preparation, and other involutions that I have after some rumination decided to exclude from this exposition due to their complexity and potential tedium, though one must note that the Perpetual Service and its Service phrases are derived wholly from the Iterative. Those for whom such a Service holds some attraction will quickly discover for themselves the logic at work in it, as it is in everything else.



Preparation is performed any time prior to initiation of Service and thereafter upon exhaustion of the Service; the latter and all subsequent Preparations are deemed Re-Preparations.

The essence of Preparation consists in creating a random or pseudo-random linear array from the whole of the preexisting stock of Service phrases that will be used in Observation. The means for realisation of Service phrases is left to the discretion of the Preparant; digital forms of Preparation are manifold, as are material ones. The author uses slips of cardstock (unlined index cards cut in half twice) with a single Service phrase handwritten in black ink upon one side of each card. In this manner a standard shuffling suffices to generate the pseudo-random array.

Upon completion of a Preparation, the Preparant may elect to recite once aloud:

"How True Thy Surface."



To Observe this Service one must begin each day with it, after waking but prior to other morning activities. Its performance is Observation and its agent the Observant.

The essence of Observation consists in receiving the "topmost" two Service phrases and reading them aloud in order. This ordered pair of Service phrases thus constitutes the Observed pair. One may elect to preface each Observation by reciting "Observe This Service" followed by a pause before the Observed pair. The Observed pair itself may be recited as many times as the Observer desires before concluding the day's Observation. Although repetition is to be encouraged, is it crucial that reading the Observed pair should not be mechanical. Through repetition its meaning should be earnestly investigated and tested in light of expectations for the coming day, as well as circumstances more generally. After the Observed pair has been Observed adequately, it should be placed with other Observed pairs (ie. removed from the active set of Service phrases), in some suitably private location that will allow them to rest in silent anticipation of the next Re-Preparation.

The meaning of each Observed pair varies widely, and in many cases has no relevance to the Observant. Correspondingly, the Observant has no relevance to it. This mutual irrelevance is one part of the larger meaning of Observation, and indeed dwelling upon one's own frequent irrelevance in light of the larger and more complex Whole is one of the chief benefits that accrues to the Observant. At other times the Service phrases will effect a mutual illumination that reaches out to encompass the Observant and adjacent circumstances within the Observed pair. Nothing more can or need be said on this count, as experience alone will demonstrate its character. When this fails to occur however, the Observant must endeavor not to allow one or the other of the Service phrases speak alone, even and especially if it might seem to have some significance on its own. Each speaks only through the other; Service phrases are never Observed in isolation. This must be so in order to protect the future integrity and longevity of the Service.



The singular privilege of life in this age is the synoptic view it affords of the life that came before it. This view emerges curiously from the threat of solipsism, that fear of a life sentence in a prison behind one's eyes. The fear is of course chimerical. Yet hounded and driven near to mad by it, one gradually comes to see that understanding why requires total surrender and prostratration before that Substance which substands the totality of our action, thought, and being. Service is of the Essence as it is of the Nature. To Service there is no alternative, as all of us are Nothing behind it. Who I am outside of Service can and will never matter to you. Yet once absorbed by the contours of its rhythm we each become pure nerve and intuit the correct reply before the words have even been spoken. Our singular gift and curse is to see this fullness fully, but only so long as we are reminded of it, only so long as we remind ourselves daily. For this and all other reasons I Observe, to become again and again the same as you in the only ways that matter.


Observe a sample service.

and recall the price
a bag to bury
a choice selector
a dash of saffron
a field that withered
a filthy reptile
a likely portrait
a putrid layer
a trace of sawdust
abide like some did
about this instance
absent on purpose
absorb all contest
absurd reduction
act like you mean it
acute discomfort
add to the sequence
admire its function
adorn with fig leaf
alighting softly
already dropping
already ending
already glowing
an ultimatum
and in those cases
anodyne graying
ascend by lander
ascribe no motive
assign no reasons
avoid its fence gate
beneath all notice
beneath your notice
benign by nature
beside it wanting
bewitch this convent
burn down like carthage
call down our vengeance
call in distraction
calling for unction
catching a glimmer
checked out before them
chew up a packet
choose an adventure
climb down your ladder
clinal solution
cloud of unknowing
collapse its pillars
colors of mourning
come in and say when
come to the point then
concoct a party
confused by nature
consigned as decent
construct this angle
consume this surfeit
convicted arson
cooking on feces
correct that posture
create this structure
crumb up the bedsheets
cry out for succor
crying out loud then
cut out my lip id
define its texture
degrade this facet
delight nor rather
denounce the leaders
deny all guesses
derails a thought train
deride the future
design without it
devoid of content
devour the liver
did it to float with
diffuse and mention
diminished stature
disgrace your elders
dissolve this one then
divert or riot
do all that's called for
don't make a scandal
don't mind the mess in
don't talk to strangers
done now or later
draw up a blueprint
drown out the factors
eaten and crumpled
elicit questions
elide their curses
empty as promised
erode like umber
excess reflection
excessive worry
exchanging utiles
excuse this failure
expanding fierceness
explore this headspace
extend some pleasure
fall like a sucker
falsely mistrusted
fatal emotion
final erasure
fining them daily
for all those angstroms
for men and women
for more than pregnant
for them that knows us
form of deception
found in deletion
frequent pandora
from out it's wonder
fucked from beginning
fury descending
gain no extension
garden's beginning
gave up an asset
genetic torpor
give next to nothing
go in right under
go out in comfort
going outside it
gone almost wholly
hands down a forfeit
hands up to winner
hang ten like wizard
hard to escape from
hierarchy smiling
high time you tried it
how is the feeling?
hunt down the culprit
i hardly mind it
i tried to find it
impose a surtax
in all those times that
in isolation
in no way novel
include proviso
increasing chances
inept and puerile
infinite regress
inside a pig pen
instead of hearing
inured to labor
it's mild by contrast
it's time for stopping
join like a linkage
juggle the phrases
just like that face when
keep up the end and
kissed by an angel
lack of awareness
lay me down quickly
like rotting pine-cones
lock up the madmen
lost all protection
lost in abstraction
made in the image
made-up inventions
make for the headlands
make out this mind to
make up a racket
mating in hunger
message decoded
messed up the sentence
met with reprisal
might take another
minutest value
mislead them freely
misread the signals
mistakes in framing
mix with the others
mumbled derision
my kind of penguin
my time's completion
naught was figured
needless destruction
neither is neater
never forget it
never rejected
no attribution
no cave for shelter
no child behind it
no destination
no metanoia
no more enjoyment
no one can see it
no one remembers
no plan illicit
no reproduction
no revelation
no room for error
no room for stopping
no septic abscess
no silver lining
no small inducement
no sort of access
no time for bullshit
no time to miss it
no way of tracking
no way to tell them
not right for sharing
not ripe for eating
not your intention
nothing is hidden
nothing that mattered
nothing worth saying
now kick the habit
olympic pathos
one for the ages
one more will make it
one or the other
only in pieces
opening recess
oppose all increase
our confrontation
our name is legion
outside this part then
outside your brain box
painful dilution
parade no jumpsuit
parceled out weekly
perplexed you're nervous
pick up the canvas
picked up an illness
pipette this lipid
point out its problems
police your concepts
potato mammon
pound out some notes then
poured out inside it
precise as lector
pretend to enter
prevent its rupture
quickly uncovered
reading the gestures
reason's castration
recanted martyr
recheck your numbers
recuse from judgment
refers encumbered
refine this mixture
reflex behind it
refuse to listen
regret to discover
reject my input
rejoice with them then
relearn your digits
release the ones that
relentless toiling
relief that falters
relieved no longer
relying always
remark in passing
remind some misfits
renege your promise
renounce all measures
repent at leisure
repose in slumber
require all sources
reread your scripture
rescind the verdict
resigned to lesions
restrict that functor
resume this project
retire the eldest
retreat like we did
return too humble
reveal the murder
reward with numbness
rhythm that makes it
right after sunset
ripped out of context
risk all for nothing
routinely indexed
run out of options
running to fade out
sadly deluded
searching outside it
sedate your morals
series unfolding
set for eruption
sex unimportant
silence the critics
since you're an addict
sings like a chorus
slated for ruin
smothered with pillows
so in conclusion
so live less meekly
so softly whispered
soaked in the old ones
some name is calling
some of contrition
some type of weapon
something persisted
sort out this traffic
spill it all over
stained like a warning
stare down a picture
still far from certain
subsist on insects
subtend its lather
such vacant knowledge
suffering's making
sum of addition
summoned by proxy
suspect you're losing
suspend all judgments
tear out its metric
that panic labile
the face of justice
the front apparent
the name's important
the sole survivor
the syrup waxing
the thoughts too scattered
the title comes later
the waxes waning
there were one trillion
they all sipped lightly
they left without them
they quit this aeon
think not of dying
this homeless mansion
this severed region
though unrecorded
three years till summer
thy abreaction
time for religion
time to decide it
to crisp this burger
to distrust their faith
to find the time to
to fire this archon
to jack at random
to leave much quicker
to lose is righteous
to match obscurely
to mind this notion
to mine this nation
to state it's urgent
to there we've made it
too close for comfort
too soon to trust it
traverse its lumber
triads aligning
triage the patients
trip up your mind with
try anamnesis
try it and say when
try it you'll like it
try not to find it
try out a five kit
tumble down gently
unbind my conscience
uncouth in manner
under the big top
under the weather
undo their mind traps
undone agreement
undone inside it
undue by virtue
unhinge this concert
unlike all others
unlock the option
unpack an office
unroll the paper
unsure of standing
untie this knot-space
until it's over
until its moment
untimely mission
untold it somehow
upend a system
upset by theory
urgency lacking
vie for attention
viral recursion
wake up a victim
watch your elation
what is the meaning?
when did it happen?
where does it stand now?
which did not surface
while at this juncture
who are you meeting?
who was the vector
whose days are numbered
whose fault is waiting
why is this here now?
why should i stop it?
with tar nor feather
without compunction
word all you youngsters
wrap up a tin can
yell out the order
yet partly vanished
you lied upon it
you never meant it
you ran too slowly
your fear it's coming
your fickle allies

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