A certain reader recently brought this old post to my attention and on re-reading (or reading it again a first time?) I recognized things meaningful to me about what it is that “goes on” in this wily to-and-fro with language that “writing” seems to be for me. Strange occurrence of never quite recognizing my past selves, but finding them inspiring. Also nice example of the ephemerality of digital objects – a few short years and music, links, records, ANYthing can disappear…
The term is evincing. That word that stands for the complex of tangled strands stuck and striated into a confrontation with blankness. You know what I mean?
Balled up like a sap-thickened snot-slickened hardening knot of twine, all strung together, unruly, but wadded and crushed, like a snowball – a large icy one – but dirtied – clodded thick and gluey-thready – distasteful, a kind of impossible object – something like the idea of the innards of a self – what one sees in a mirror – like a melancholy music – tunes that you love that empty and sicken you – help you to feel more alive – all that. More. The unaccountable enormity that feeds into a stream called entity. All that. More. Horrible, beautiful things.
The fact that we are far more than we are able to surmise, and far…
[how might it be ANYthing other than ANYone’s guess, among us, pray tell? WHO or WHAT might qualify – among US – as arbiters or judges, experts or prophets – and by what measures or standards (or WHOSE?) as each of us species-specifically WE?]
So we persisted, Jon, Jesse, and I, and the deceased Beckett, with perhaps thousands of others, unbeknownst any to each around some mythical innermost.
“Fail better.” The worst times are the ones in which one simply wants to quit failing altogether. Unfortunately (literally) that necessarily entails a kind of “end of the world as one ‘knows’ [perceives, participates, experiences, or imagines] it” – either suicide, tragedy, ‘terminal’ illness – death of some sort. Maybe silence, but that’s not certain.
The game table is always already laid, you’re always simply ‘entering’ it (LW points out this fallacy in his collections of numbered critiques of anything anyone writes or says or claims) actually (as far as we know) always already there (where you ‘find’ – what?!? – your ‘self’ – what?!?) and (again, perhaps, literally, unfortunately – or at the very least extremely limitedly) you can only occupy one position at the table (or wherever the action happens to be) at a time, that, unfortunately, always involves the very delimited…well, YOU. These are the arrangements as they transpire.
Language can (and does), we surmised, go anywhere. I try to record, invent, notate, mark, initiate. It all seems unnameable. Or of far too many names, references, usages, subtexts and connotations, inferences and denotations, already implemented in order to represent anything undone, reconstructed, deconstructed, novel or ‘new.’ “There’s nothing new under the sun” was already a cliché at the beginning / in the earliest phases.
Fires and voids all imagined early. [Apeiron. Chora/Khora. Clinamen. Flux. Infinity. ABSENCE. The ‘Other.’]. I begin. Again. GWFH and Freud refer to this as “repetition.” A hopeless hope of emergence. As different or unique as it may seem, ever a plenitude of the pre-existing. The already-there.
Been there, done that, Beckett exhausts from his grave alongside. “He was found lying on the ground…a voice comes to one in the dark” Imagine. Imagine. Everything is already there. The table set and set again, arranged. Already there when you wake to it. World.
It hasn’t…apparently…been given up. Perhaps it is inexhaustible. Limited though we be, we seem to be teeming with it/them… efforts at the unsayable. Unnameable. How it is. What is the what. Lost in the labyrinth of the occurrence, experience, now with shoddy, partial, biased and over-specified or eccentrically particular maps, guides, or rulebooks. Ourselves.
Quickly we realize that language can go anywhere. Set the prompt into a trial, expose the confounding intricacies of political machinations. Place it in a play and interrogate socio-psychological relations and complexities. Investigate and amass its historical and archaeological, genealogical and etymological potentials. Think it – philosophically – what is man, lying, or ground… and how do we propose to know or experience any of it?
An old(?) man lies on the ground, dead(?), no reasons forthcoming. Perhaps he’s not even old, but gender is specified regardless of age. And “an old woman found him” – designated as well by biological sex and relative age. “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Here we’ve always argued. Where WG amasses, Jon and Jesse invent, repeat, imagine. I am given to doubt.
Plato, Socrates, Xerxes, Herodotus, Shakespeare, Homer, Dante, Anaximander, God, Jesus, Allah, Einstein, Turing, Buddha, sun, moon, stars – everything seems humanly suspect to me. I argue with Jon, Jesse, JD: I argue that I find myself THIS person in THIS situation at THIS time with THESE conditions and limitations… and thus consider myself thus-ly. Which tells nothing more than it tells… ever too particularized, too specie-al, too uni-sided, sidereal, exposing never anything but its own account, perception or point-of-view…and impossibly trapped in its own way of BEING – necessarily… and unfortunately… for knowing or knowledge in any more general way (“or so it seems to me”, I argue). Perhaps language. “Asshole philosophers” ruining all apparently solid inquiries or conventionally established “facts” with the questionable caveat: the Human. Insofar as anything is communicated, investigated, perceived, experienced, learned, argued, created, or shared.
Even my cohorts seem to resent me. I’ve yet to entertain any account of the world not mediated or processed through mine own miniscule, recent, brief and limited species…even via “revelation,” technology or dream. Nothing transmits but humans themselves… as far as we know (CAN know).
…So “he was found lying on the ground” has no other accounts I am privy to, and our privy-ness seems to be ours alone. Of little assistance to what we might propose as “reality” – something involving, accounting for, or incorporating MORE-THAN our-ourselves. I am unaware of how that might be accomplished.
“in potential” I hear most often…some ginormous PERHAPS – as if there were gods or quantum particles! Some unseen, posited, unexperienced unknown some one-of-our-kind might have radical access to as a mystic-medium or seer, demigod or messenger and not also only be another simple spattering species to kind.
We argue. We perceive. We experience. We attend. We create. That’s what we “know.”
“He was found lying on the ground…an old woman found him.” Just us. Just us. Just us.
Jesse’s working up something, so is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded.
There was plenty of talk – banter, chatter, fulminations, really – to the contrary, to the effect that the ‘working up’ had ceased, had dwindled, long since dissipated or been simply forgotten…not so. Now I’ve heard from Jon and Jesse, piecemeal though it be, and my own ‘working-on’ (or UNWORKING, as MB always referred to it) is near to its inception.
Something is going to emerge. Jon repeats and repeats that “Someone is going to come” and Jesse appears to have passed beyond the silence once begun, through all his notes of suicide, toward fire and conflagration and some bewildered youthfulness. Nohow On become a MUST. And all of it inconclusive, i.e. not concluded.
I work in, on, up, and ever forward, toward – ‘toward the what?’ Jon keeps asking while Jesse scrawls on napkins – figures like cartoons, clowns and foxes, masters, slaves, and mysteries – our locations go unmarked, our whereabouts unknown. This is How It Is, according to Beckett and MB. FK in the burrow. Plato in a cave. JD taking apart each domicile, meticulously.
We are looking for a place to work at our unworking, the time and space to be for what is not. Beckett named it The Unnameable.
I took to the books and letters, while apparently the others wrote, made messages and codes, secreted the symbols into texts and silences, plays and fictions full of pause. GWFH, another spell of YHWH, foretold this long ago: “the ends are reached and reached beyond, folding under, folding through, reached again, again, and…”
For years now Jon is melancholy and therefore quite abbreviated, unable to go on, full of stutters, repetitions, and always the questions, questioning, questing, the undone. Jesse through his trials and papered rooms, sometimes near and sometimes foreign, never-know, never-mind, never-where, scraping geography and clouds in search of where No Where and Now Here meet. I’ve thus far been unable to locate him. As for Ivan, Ivan and Enrique both stopped working after the library of loss – assembling detectives, interviewing the dumb and victimized, missals here and there, mostly filled of snow and jungle.
I think: crows spread across the overcast, charred ash sprinkling fields, nothing rooted, nothing grown.
The unworking. Almost a throw of the dice. Half of each sentence erased. The subtle coterie of literate mathematicians. Reports from elsewhere. WG’s layered travelogue… in search of… The work of unworking goes on.
“Splitting on difference,” he said, the passage from mayhem to insight – WG described as “Vertigo,” the verge, the swerve, the swoon. You reach an edge or limit, what cannot be undone, begin unworking. Begin unworking there.
At the grave “I can’t go on. I must go on. I’ll go on,” Beckett decries. It’s not at understanding – “splitting on difference” – but in the going-on, turning over/under, inexhaustibly or ad infinitum – convergences coming undone.
From JD Jesse gets a Post Carte, leaves it somewhere in the margins, but we know. We know we have heard, even if we can’t re-member. All variations of death, Jon thinks, Jon writes, Jon says…assembling the book of questions…the interior distance of this fierce and beautiful world filled with women, fire, and dangerous things…keeping MB in infinite conversation.
Some things don’t make sense yet seem imperative. As if there were a realm of the unsayable, a set of stanzas wedding language and death – signifying nothing – that is to say, a world of unspeakable silence that works like clamor.
Exhausting voice and nothing more. The trouble with pleasure, with suffer, with become. None of us trust ideas and yet we generate and respond.
“He was found lying on the ground. No one had missed him. No one was looking for him… An old woman found him.” (Beckett). We somehow set out to search. “That seems to hang together.” Jon, Jesse, WG, myself, scouring the globe for more – who, what…- “But finally I asked if I knew exactly what the man – what exactly was required of the man, what it was he could or could not say. No, was the answer, after some little hesitation, no, I did not know…” and so we keep on.
“A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.” JD post carte. Beckett’s own death, still. GWFH, WG, FK and MB’s left messages, notes, recordings. “Only a small part of what is said can be verified”…if any. We are left, bereft, full of fragments, thoughts concluded, forgotten, ignored, but still unworking – in journeys, in dramas, in fire. Hanging at the limits of ropes. To strangle or drop, and what then? What next? Splitting on difference. It comes apart, what holds together. No one knows. Nowhere, now here, very difficult to say. Meticulous dismantling, decode – recode – Unicode – uncode.
…Jesse’s working up something, as is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded. Piecemeal as it may be, we are all working on (or UNWORKING, as MB liked to refer to it)…and nearing some inception.
“I am suspicious of all words, for even the slightest reflection shows the absurdity of trusting them.”
– Paul Valery, Monsieur Teste –
“You know, dear you, that my mind is of the obscurest sort…I am composed of an unfortunate mind which is never quite sure that it has understood what it has understood without realizing it.”
– Valery –
FOR NO REASON
Delight. Hope. Survival.
Homer . Beckett. Kafka. Hegel.
Wittgenstein. Heidegger. Merleau-Ponty.
Fosse. Derrida. Foucault. Sterne.
Imagination. Philosophy. Fiction.
WHAT CAN BE THOUGHT? (Philosophy) “on the verge”
WHAT CAN BE WRITTEN? (Literature) “on the verge”
Maybe I’ll just read. Perhaps suicide (stop). Perhaps create. Perhaps avoid. Perhaps participate with others (friends, family, children, pets, nature). Perhaps think and drink.
WHO CARES? NO ONE. NO SOME. DO I?
Selected “foods for thought”:
The Event – Martin Heidegger. Monsieur Teste – Paul Valery. Replacement – Tor Ulven. Inexhaustibility and Human Being – Stephen D. Ross. The Meridian – Paul Celan. Verge of Philosophy – John Sallis. and so on. Potentials.
Directions for staying alive (as human being). Follow something: desire. hope. beauty. sex. belief. pleasure. pain. Try something.
Read history and imagine imagining a world that sensible.
Read science and imagine imagining a world that ordered.
Read literature and imagine imagining a world.
Read philosophy and imagine imagining that many questions.
Read religion and imagine imagining that many answers.
Stop. Say your own. (thoughts, imaginations, feelings, perceptions) to someone or to nothing (write them).
And so on.
For no reason.
But perhaps staying alive / living a little longer.
WHAT DO YOU WONDER? DESIRE? WISH? PROPOSE?
And so on.
WHO CARES? DO YOU?
And so on…
…for no reason.
Thus the life of “the writer,” “artist,” “human,” “scientist”… WHATEVER – WHOMEVER HUMAN (so-self-called) BEING.
In other words… when we encounter “literature” we (perhaps, perhaps probably) are engaging a fellow human being in the NOW – amidst an odd tactic of applying (through a strange and meddlesome nigh-universal ambiguous medium) the operation of EVERYTHING he/she knows or has experienced to the point-of-NOW. And we (weird, individualized organisms) either find correlation and correspondence with (some or much or little) of their ‘whole’ knowledge & experience (and thus, perhaps, probably, are moved by or like them) or… find very little correspondence or similarity with our ‘own’ knowledge and experience and therefore consider them banal, useless, uninteresting, untrue, or off-putting.
WHO CARES? DO YOU?
I do. It keeps me alive, surviving. I drink, I read, I think. Attempt to forget obligations, relations, and responsibilities (I can’t). That I’m a FATHER, that i exist in a socio-economic scenario that requires the bulk of my life be passed in “bullshit jobs” that somehow appease ‘Powers-That-Be’ and allow me a place on earth and a terrible fight to try and defend or spend ANY portion of existence doing-what-i-want, or what ‘fulfills’ or causes me happiness / gladness / joy in being alive…
When I’m able to “snare,” “steal,” “TIME” – I read and write, make love, or drink alcohol – because these things make me feel GOOD or WELL as the sort of being I am.
Why is it I feel compelled to sneak, steal, or justify what gives me joy in being? (whether plant, ant, mammal, or any other cellular construction)?
I wouldn’t ‘rather’ be famous, or a president, powerful, or a businessman, artist, or ‘professional,’ or anything. I REALLY just want to be a human-in-society valuable-to-the-rest because I happen to be one who loves language, literature, pretending, fiction, inventing, thinking, imagining what might be – this-wise, that-wise, which-wise, whom-wise, where-wise, when-wise…
WHY IS THIS NOT VALUABLE? ACCEPTABLE? SUPPORTABLE? along with each alternate things-one-might-want-to-be as valuable-to-the-cumulative…
Humans seem to be multiplicitous, variable, and plentiful. Many wish/desire/like to be strong, rich, beautiful, productive, etc. Why can not there also be room for those who desire neither usefulness, beauty, riches, or power… but CANS at the verges… of language, thought, imaginings? And are these really so different from those pushing edges of other characteristics?
Suddenly this entry feels like a wallowing or a requesting of pity.
That is not the feeling.
“I am composed of an unfortunate mind which is never quite sure that it has understood what it has understood without realizing it.”
“an ‘absoluteness of absence’ if writing is to be possible” – Jacques Derrida
Certain works by Samuel Beckett eventuate an environment of silence for me. For instance, the brief poem “What is the Word?”
What Is the Word
folly for to –
for to –
what is the word –
folly from this –
all this –
folly from all this –
folly given all this –
folly seeing all this –
what is the word –
this there –
this this here –
all this this here –
folly given all this –
folly seeing all this this here –
for to –
what is the word –
seem to glimpse –
need to seem to glimpse –
folly for to need to seem to glimpse –
what is the word –
and where –
folly for to need to seem to glimpse what where –
what is the word –
over there –
away over there –
afar away over there –
afaint afar away over there what –
what is the word –
seeing all this –
all this this –
all this this here –
folly for to see what –
seem to glimpse –
need to seem to glimpse –
afaint afar away over there what –
folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what –
what is the word –
what is the word
– Samuel Beckett
Perhaps the what where is always what we’re attempting to tell. Perhaps that’s eternal recurrence / return. The when is always known. Always NOW. The folly, truly folly, of our attempt to tell the what where that is our being, our being NOW, always being NOW, no when needed, no whom known, just what where presently…occurring. Is this always what we are attempting to say? To find words for? To tell? What where, now? Always NOW – whether reading or writing, assailing past, present or future – it is NOW that it’s occurring, but what? where? And what is the word? What are the words for this what where we’re attempting to tell? This is my writing, reading – in a way, it seems, the all of it – my folly. Perhaps what where is unnameable.
And so I also offer a reading – for even as soon as I re-read my own writing – I cannot remember the whom or what-where of the writing. Because the reading is always right NOW. This reading – a chapter from Mark C. Taylor’s book Tears (as both eye-leak or suffering and rift-split-rip-“tear”) entitled “How to do Nothing with Words” (my own copy a rainbow of highlights and symbolized marginalia – like all that I read significance to). If this sort of thing – this philosophizing or wondering writing – is not of your interest – don’t bother. But if it is kind of intriguing, or causes curiosity, I find this chapter a compelling and admirable attempt to descry the “what is the word?” tussle I constantly struggle and strive for enacting the telling what where.
“The experimental dimension is precisely where thinking at its limit takes place, where the singularity of a given thought is being shaped…”
– Michel de Beistegui –
“the present is as long as a walk when I am walking”
– Chryssipe, quoted in Francois Jullien –
Or, “the present is as long as the sentence I’m composing…” the tune, the breath, the weather… the lunge, the gaze, the listen… the sex, starlight, heartbeat… presence determined, according to scale.
“…as long as the thought I am thinking…” that leads to the next, and the borrowed, the other, imagined. The languages lent, or made new, bastardized, reconstructed, remingled…
Therefore [have I now ‘left’ present/-ce?] the present writing is present just as long as it presents itself? Does this explain run-ons and magical realism? The refusal to pause or to finish? Avoidance of punctuation, cessation, or periods…in order to be writing? (as long as it is writing…living written?).
I am drawn in writing presence. And I aspire. To be writing as often present-ly as possible (in all the senses of the terms you might conceive). Working, present-ly, with presences that present themselves in the activity of writing – ages, layers, eons of language becoming toward these significations I am physically inscribing NOW with evolving, accumulative, adapting and erasured meanings over times and places, persons and presents/-ces. This continuous bodily activity and operation marking whatever presently transpires on lines – between my organism, this instrument and matter of lined pages – creating a Mobius-like twisting endless loop of circuitry, a breathless action (almost afraid of interruption, disconnection, or cessation) as if it would disqualify present/-ce with unauthorized and arbitrary finite personal breakage.
Yet I know (or believe) the present/-ing will continue all the same whether I am writing or not – ever assailing with near-infinite (perhaps infinite) encountering and engagements…be-ing… regardless of my regard, participation, choice of action, and awareness. Unconcerned by my present/-ce as I a grain of soil or blade of grass, singular molecules or mosquitos, the hairs dropped from our heads. Matters of scale of what matters. [To/for us. ME. At our scale, at whatever scale, DEPENDING].
Interruption occurs. Into, inter-, enter: an eruption. Anything that commands response. A call from another, a locusts’ buzz, tonal or temperature flux. Changing track and attention. I plea for intervention versus interruption, that the breathless present/ce might go on, unintruded but intervened. Eventuation, eventually, new contents entering veins of the stream I am searching, spreading, scribing…at the limit of…
Intrusion. Inter-eruption. Or inter-vention, intra-venously… WILL OUR PRESENT PRESENCE all bound up with, knotted, wound and intersecting, inserted and inserting reciprocally or complicitly…go on, remain, continue? Will it be dissipation or dissension, distension, desiccation or decay? Can we have, swerve, welcome an irruption intravenously? I hesitate, I turn. A response.
Staccato desiccation. I’ve been bombarded. Like tragedy, untranceable. Persistence and flow stuttering, gives way. The stream of thought polluted, a turbulence assigned. Coming undone, branch drying up, kindling, that is to say…
Yet if to say, that is – perhaps we’re crossing, coming-over, over-coming interruption as irruption. Response-able, disabling, but hearing more, lines converging with complexity, a chaos, a banking flow…or spilling over and dispersing?…who could know. What means – BECOME?
“the present is a write, as long as I am writing” – this presence fractured into fragments, presents, now, perhaps beyond deciphering. The mode of ciphers, potent codes – standing for?? Standing for??? Which represents THIS…what you read. Read in, read from, read into and out of. We do not step into the same stream twice, it has been said, or three times, or even once, even, again. We don’t know “same,” yet use it like a God, destructive hoping (“identity,” “non-contradiction,” even Truth(s) or Fact(s)) – that SOMEthing might not change.
NOT in this world, and we know no other. Conjuring zeroes, ideals and myths, utopias (literally “no-places”) and lines of imaginings. Hoping for control? Security? Continuance? – of what, of which…presence. Scales to track the motions with, fallibly. Attempts to stay the flow, stay with the flow, re-cognize, re-member, re-main. What continues to fall apart and reassemble, ever ‘new’ but only partly, in its occurring, range of scales ever irrupting, erupting, interrupting as comings-to-be in all their goings, it’s going…a fragile now.
But I digress along the stream, exposing fragments, perhaps connected to a mouth, a trunk or mother. Dispersive river, interminably con-fusing elements transgressing finitude. Number, line and term. Concept, law, or theory. None of it works, and some of it seems to. All may belong, depending on scale.
A matter of present/ce perhaps, and of movement. Some matter of species, perception and dream. Susurrate surround, full of disruption, riding waves, but not for long.
“the present is as long…as a singularity of thought is being shaped…”
In many times of my life, this simple challenge has kept my creative writing inertia active when seemingly the rest of my life-world was mitigating against it (such as currently). I am happy to join this group again, and hopefully contribute small pieces of worth… and ensure my pen stays active. Thank you Friday Fictioneers!
For ages, they spoke about ‘the Empties.’ Of everything, they said. No emotion, no perception, no experience, or meaning. No one would know. Even absence would be left behind. We imagined, but really hadn’t. It must have come. If/then occurred. This be ‘the Empties.’ There is no knowing. There is no happens. There is no history or time. Perhaps no space. A strange again of Only Things.
I really “mean” it when I say that I don’t know what I am writing, and that the REAL WHY is because I want to write, and am able, and that I honestly have no character, event, or idea in mind or body as I apply this mediatory marking instrument (ball-point-pen) between whatever-myself-is and this-blank-lined-paper.
I truly might be WASTING LIVING TIME.
OR…might be recording something useful…providing traces…leaving marks of process…like masturbation, cooking, politics, or work – HOW LIVING TIME IS “WASTED.”
Who knows? The scientists? Or neurobiologists? The philosophers or anthropologists? Historians? Pastors? Sociologists? CEOs? Artists? Who determines (evaluates and judges) what is “waste” from what is “significant”/”important”? Do humans? Does Time?
For what it’s worth, I have an ellipsis of minutes I am not (apparently) needed by children, pets, work, or world…and so I have taken up a writing tool and am drawing letters in collectives called words onto an empty section of a blank lined notebook.
Is this valuable? Don’t we wonder or ask this regarding every action and breath? From holding a child, to exercise; fixing plumbing to sleeping? Laundry. School. DOES THIS MATTER?!? And, if it might, to WHOM or WHAT…why?
I cannot imagine to whom it might matter that I am stumbling out sentences with nothing in mind other than WRITING, TO-BE-WRITING – excepting my insignificant eperiencing of “self” that WANTS TO BE WRITING – in any case. Therefore, I AM writing.
All those who seem to depend on me for their well-being, survival (or SENSE of same) also SEEM to be surviving and existing at relative comfort. Those who purchase (shamefully) my “LIFE.TIME” via employment – have proffered the day off as a normative weekend practice. For the time being, apparently NOTHING has immediate NEED of me, so I am left to determine what to do with “TIME.”
And because I overhear myself continuously complaining, desiring, wishing and bemoaning that I ‘never have time’ to write – I AM WRITING. Because.
As far as I can tell, I am writing nothing (of worth) because, as much as I desire to write, I actually don’t know WHAT to write, or for WHOM, or WHAT – and so i am just WRITING because. Serving no one, not even myself, yet perhaps. Perhaps, because the WANT or URGE “to write” as a writer…is NOT to WRITE SOMETHING (as far as I can surmise – albeit I also regularly wish I were writing something ‘great’ or ‘evental,’ etc…) but truly is simply to be IN THE ACT OF…WRITING, which I AM, and therefore I cannot know what good any of it does beyond being what I wish I were doing…becoming ACTUAL.
Wishes come true: I AM WRITING.
To no point of purpose but the fulfillment of desire: I AM DOING WHAT I WANT TO BE DOING: I AM WRITING. And it does feel good, and part of it (I think) feels good because I am unable to discover a path, direction, or ‘way’ for it to feel good FOR.