On another timbre


Presence Sounds Like Love


It would begin with a sound.

If it is to be, it would begin in sound. For sound is the nearest relative of presence, presence to that which exists, and all of it full and invisible.

She spoke.

She mouthed, and her voice made no sound.

But he heard. And he helped, only from much too far away. So far removed it couldn’t register. As empty as can be, sound still requires space, think “silence.”

They were silent and distant, but echoes arrived in his ears on the winds and through wires, his sister, his landscape, his past and the rains.

Might he hear who he’d seen long before, across so many miles? The machines, said his sibling, those designs against timing and space, they can do it, can take sound beyond its own body, beyond its own place, they unravel and ravel again, their logic like that of play, she said.

He tried. He failed. He pressed stop.

She replied.

Her lips moved but produced not a sound. Just an echo, he heard and translated, attached to the waves flowing back to her, so familiar, familiar enough to engage, engaging in her recognition, what seemed a reflection of her.

He flowed in and she spoke and they swam through the wires in their sleep.

And he wrote. In cursive, presenting the shape of the waves while charting their flow, susurration, their absence, the words were transported as whispers.

And she sensed, as did he, empty sounds full of each, making music. Larynxing tones of the sea.

Reflecto Numero Ocho

Pt. 8: Mean What You Say What You Mean

Meaning, the torture of meaning, is the vain and interminable agreement between what there is,

on the one hand, and ordinary language, on the other – between ‘well-seeing’ and ‘well-saying.’

The agreement is such that it is not even possible to decide if it is commanded by language

or prescribed by being”

-Alain Badiou-

What makes a word is its meaning”

-V. N. Volosinov-

As a general rule – each word when used in a new context is a new word”

-J. R. Firth-

A new meaning is the equivalent of a new word

The real is only the base. But it is the base.”

-Wallace Stevens-

I am supposing that it could be inferred from the previous section that since we are implicitly unable to adequate our total experience in language, and that a direct transference of our experience in and through language is not possible; in other words, that our presentations of our experience in language are inherently ill-seen and ill-said efforts; that dipping into the language palette as a member of the human community equals an action or activity of relating rather than an accurate substantive transaction…

that it might not, in fact, matter what signs or gestures are utilized, but merely participating in the activity itself.

A skeptical view, perhaps, that, if all signs are multiplicitous (like all perceptions) – both overly general and inanely individualized – simply using language accomplishes its meaning, not what language(s) is/are used?

Another way of saying – is it possible to effectively mean something, or to translate substantively, matter, in language…communicating content instead of relations?

Common-sensically writing, we are, when speaking, utilizing billions of units of accrued and generally agreed-upon ranges of “meaning” or indications, directions, references and significations attached to these kernels of sound and expression…”words are congenitally conceptual” (Jerome Klinkowitz).

de Saussure might have signed these palettes as langue – the fund of sign-systems in parlay at any given time among certain social systems of persons – the cultural clime, professional environments, demographical contexts of semiotic webs. But accounting for the psychophysiological uniqueness of individual entities in these systems results in a furthering texture of usages, an explosive ganglia of intentions and purposes and desires for each occasion of a gestural item or practice of signs.

Which leaves all manner of matter of languaging approximate. Every time.

If involvement in languaging at its essence is relational, the primary or ontological “meaning” of the fact of languaging is given: languaging is a human system of engagement and encounter. That means a lot already, as a purposive human activity. Beyond that, we demonstrate a need that that fundamental exhibition of relatedness have experiential-personal-specific trans-actional effect.

This is where each palate or hand operating with the ocean of signs always affects and, at its fullest, effects the language(s) utilized…

I’m tempted to say that the languaging experience, whether that experience is of language itself, or is using language to stand in or refer for some other content (feelings, ideas, messages, objects, etc) is an activity of what we “mean” by “meaning” at its core. If by “meaning” we sign something like an experience or sensation plus the rationality of awareness added to agreement, that is, gesturing some aspect of reality in to a field shared in common, therefore a capacity of understanding, a co-relation of questioning or co-mprehension of experiences, then to constantly increase our apprehension of available sign systems and continually developing our facility of utilizing (organizing, selecting and incorporating) this universe of signs seems critical and imperative.

For the function of languaging in humanity it seems crucial, given its relational reality, that although perhaps “any old sign” will arbitrarily “do,” in the fullness of possibles our closeness to well-seen/well-said satisfaction will be in proportion to each entity’s concern and acquisition of the greatest possible breadth and depth of shared sign-systems, and locating or languaging into what J.R. Firth has called “speech fellowships” – something referring to collections of humans sharing the greatest overlappings of sign-systems and contexts they generate/are generated by.

within speech fellowships a speaker is phonetically and verbally content because when he speaks to one of his fellows he is also speaking to himself. That can be the most deeply satisfying form of self-expression” (J. R. Firth)


“And to meet: in my sense, exceeds the power of feeling, however tender, and of bodily motions, however expert” (Samuel Beckett). This harmony that may occur between happenings and their languagings into a shared system, wrenches each inhabitant of the “speech activity” away from anonymity…provokes “meaning” I believe. As does shared feeling (or an overlap of sensory/sensational happenings among persons) or shared movements and embodiments.

This drives the urge of ill-seeing ill-saying toward better-seeing better-saying, the compulsion to recommence and recommence the attempts…extending/expanding utilization and aptitude of sounds and gestures available and seeking “fellows” with similar or overlapping apprehension of languaging-systems…to co-rrelate and co-rrespond, ask and answer toward…to relate…to “mean…”