Mapping the Meanings – Semiotic Territories

Guattari - emphatic umph

Semiotic Territories 

If the world were different, or its circumstances, so would he be – no use going down that avenue.  Where he’d gotten to, he’d arrived of his own doing – his own choices, interactions and responses to his surroundings – his opportunities and limitations – his very own and very shared, complex experiences.

The “way of looking at it” is always only one way of looking at it – that’s the case of it, even when viewed through “multiple perspectives” – if its delivered of a human, it’s the processing of singular machines, however plural their construction may be.

So change is curious, in that, when any element alters, the entire effect is unknown, is of incalculable scales that can only be measured in probabilities.  Probabilities, hypotheses, theories and beliefs have one tremendous thing in common: they are all of them uncertain.  You’ve heard it said (or he has) – “the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself,” no, that doesn’t sound quite right, “the only thing we know for certain is that everything’s uncertain,” no, people don’t use the word certain and its relatives that often.  “Change is truth, truth is change”?

She said: “A shared past isn’t forgotten even in change.”  That works for him, for what is memory but the continuous recording of change?

It’s grown easy to confuse himself, he thinks.

 

He notes:  “You find yourself in an encyclopedia of circumstance and then you wonder.”  He only wonders because to inquire or investigate would mean to revise the encyclopedia by looking at it – selecting, perceiving, and thereby focusing an entry to the ignorance of the rest.  A book-burning, a global apocalypse, a conflagration of reality.  Not what he wants.  So he sits and stews or simmers there.  But the limiting fact of existing at “there” annihilates great distances.  He can’t seem to avoid mass destruction.  He takes deep breaths.

 

Writing like thinking like moving – all of it creating a splintered prism of mirrors, warped and shattering windows on presence.  He loves her.  And others beside.  And himself.  And the strange fanatic gifts of the world.  People – “good,” “bad,” or otherwise – how can they not fascinate, be beautiful, in even their minimal capacities?  Where had he edited this part of himself, during?  How he loved her, benefit or ill.

 

He changes, along with everything about (or around) him.

 

Everything was changing (an enormous statement) and he along with it (the Everything).  Self, selves, other, others – why did all seem unavoidably personal?  Just what was this ‘person-ness’?  He feeds encyclopedias to flames, and entertains the questions.  Realizing that questions are the riddling workings of erasure.

 

His question swipes across its context, even when he’s asking of its context.  In other words (his words) “focus obliterates the unclear.”  And the unclear composes the context.  The too-much and more-than, some even say “Beyond.”  What’s not forgotten in the stylus of changing – our memory?  What shared past is present?  He looks at her photographs uniquely each time, each moment, each instance.  Even in-stance he’s not stable.

 

How could he hold position on a spinning globe?

He asks Siri, the plastic voice of a Global Positioning System:  “Where am I?”  Her reply obliterates the world in a profession of some arbitrary gridwork (abstract and unreal) of names and points, streets and latitudes, longitudes, disabling fabrications designed to throw him off course and locate him against the constant movement.  He remembers not to believe, that very re-membering dismembering the possibles.

 

Desiring connection – the security or perceived safety of a tightened weave, to be knotted in a tangle of threads – he spies squirrels and birds, fences and trees, a woman’s breast.  To sense substance pressed against another, as if interacting a location that might not give.  Or give precisely.  An event.

 

He can’t remember what is not being forgotten.  He wanted to, wanted to know what she didn’t forget, like a recipe or table of contents, a topographical map.  He couldn’t imagine what response she would give – what saying or writing, what sculpting or paint – as an answer.

 

He stops guessing as an act of nonviolence.  Most probably he lays down and opens his arms as a wishing and welcome.  That is his practice now: bewildered? confused? give greeting and welcome.  “Hello there, unclear and unknown, I am unable to re-cognize you or you would be known and familiar…and yet I am sensing a pattern,” he says.  A family resemblance of mystery, a remembering of is.  If no one’s written that, perhaps they should (he thinks – another act of violence).  Pronouncements.  Aphorisms.  Like paradox-bombs, parables leaving remains.

 

As a first, he senses he understands “absolute truth” – that rage and genocide that attempts to rid the world of itself – its reality, complexity, multitudes.  Truth the large red button signed “Do Not Press!”  Depression must be a result of pressuring some truth, excluding all else?

 

Confused, he feels at home.  Mismembering, bewildered, changing with change.  Con-fused – isn’t that what he on some scale desires?  To be fused-with, part-of, belonging and participant?

He’s in motion, there is music and breath and these thoughts – all things depending on change.

 

“…no longer a subjective bubble, but rather a limitless interface through which ontological or ‘pure’ relations and ‘becomings’ easily pass…Subjectivity is constitutively open, or has a being-toward, as do all relative beings…We are semiotic, existential territories rather than brains in vats, and these territories or ecologies are not contained within our physical anatomy, nor are they known only as immanent representations.  The question becomes this: Where does your cognition or subjectivity terminate if it is a suprasubjective process and not a stable substance?  The ‘self’ becomes a sign relation or interpretant rather than an unrelated, ontological entity…What is being constantly emphasized is a kind of semiotic ontology in which relations become crucial at every level of analysis and allow for the interweaving of corporeal and incorporeal factors.  Relations are an intrinsic dimension of being, and every being becomes the active center of a web of relations with other beings…beings that are nevertheless in mobile relationships…the ‘truth of the relative’ rather than the ‘relativity of truth.”

– Paul Bains, The Primacy of Semiosis: An Ontology of Relations

ernst bloch - human

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Locations in the Mapping of Meaning

In my efforts to ground and attend to my experience and express it with honesty (see Opening the Hand) I have developed a map of locations – realms of the process that have risen as prominent regions within the difficulty, effort, grief, growth and procession of engaging dramatic change…  You can view it here:  Locations on the Map of Meaning.

To view the text for each mode, simply hover over the nodes title, click or press the + button or the down arrows beneath each location title to see full content.  Some nodes lead to further nodes or you can use the buttons along the bottom of the screen.  Repeating my former disclaimer…

All of this is to say that I plan a series of posts that will be intensely personal, self-revelant, my own way of reaching toward my experience, my being, and selecting language with which to mark it down – for re-memory, re-cognition, observation, reception, attention, account.  These are journal entries, frankly.  They are what I have to write.  I am calling them “Mapping the Meaning.”  Since I know very few of you personally, in your whole presence, I expect confession, inquiry, and its self-circular expression to genuinely interest or benefit very few of you.  For me, it is writing with an open hand.”

Locations on the Map of Meaning

Waking the Invisible…with Jack Gilbert

Waking at Night

The blue river is gray at morning

and evening.  There is twilight

at dawn and dusk.  I lie in the dark

wondering if this quiet in me now

is a beginning or an end.

.

Cherishing What Isn’t

Ah, you three women whom I have loved in this

long life, along with the few others.

And the four I may have loved, or stopped short

of loving.  I wander through these woods

making songs of you.  Some of regret, some

of longing, and a terrible one of death.

I carry the privacy of your bodies

and hearts in me.  The shameful ardor

and the shameless intimacy, the secret kinds

of happiness and the walled-up childhoods.

I carol loudly of you among trees emptied

of winter and rejoice quietly in summer.

A score of women if you count love both large

and small, real ones that were brief

and those that lasted.  Gentle love and some

almost like an animal with its prey.

What is left is what’s alive in me.  The failing

of your beauty and its remaining.

You are like countries in which my love

took place.  Like a bell in the trees

that makes your music in each wind that moves.

A music composed of what you have forgotten.

That will end with my ending.

.

Suddenly Adult

The train’s stopping wakes me.

Weeds in the gully are white

with the year’s first snow.

A lighted train goes

slowly past absolutely empty.

Also going to Fukuoka.

I feel around in myself

to see if I mind.  Maybe

I am lonely.  It is hard

to know.  It could be

hidden in familiarity.

.

To Know the Invisible

The Americans tried and tried to see

the invisible Indians in the deeper jungle

of Brazil.  They waited for months,

maybe for years.  Until a knife and a pot

disappeared.  They put out other things

and some of those vanished.  Then one morning

there was a jungle offering sitting on the ground.

Gradually they began to know the invisible

by the jungle’s choices.  Even when nothing

replaced the gifts, it was a kind of seeing.

Like the woman you camp outside of, at the five portals.

Attending the conduits that tunnel from the apparatus

down to the capital of her.  Through the body

and its weather, to the mind and heart, to the spirit

beyond.  To the mystery.  And gradually to the ghosts

coming and leaving.  To the difference between

the nightingale and the Japanese nightingale

which is not a nightingale.  Getting lost in the treachery

of language, waylaid by the rain dancing its pavane

in the bruised light of winter afternoons.

By the flesh, luminous and transparent in the silent

clearing of her.  Love as two spirits flickering

at the edge of meeting.  An apartment on the third

floor without an elevator, white walls and almost

no furniture.  Water seen through pine trees.

Love like the smell of basil.  Richness beyond

anyone’s ability to cope with.  The way love is after fifty.

– Jack Gilbert, The Dance Most of All

Jack Gilbert

 

Subject to Change

Mail carrier logo

I am become a Rural Carrier Associate for the U.S. Postal Service.

I pursued employment with the USPS thinking it might provide some security of longevity, tradition (over 200 years of continuous service, public benefit, innovation and survival), government benefits and programs…a service and income that might meet the needs my children and I have developed for something like stability and sustenance.

I was wrong about most of those things.

I’m almost guaranteed one day of work a week (or whenever the regular carrier is unable to work) – no benefits, guaranteed abuse and damage to our one essential family vehicle, grave limitations on supplemental work (not supposed to seek employment with anyone that is a client of USPS – in other words, anyone that purchases postage – greatly delimiting the options / NOR taking any work between the hours of 6 AM and 6 PM when I might be needed to fill in) – and, a grand service NOT supported or secured by the US Government since 1970 (no tax dollars toward USPS!).

On the other hand.  It clearly satisfies core ethics and values I have carried through my entire life and its pursuits –  Meaning.  Relationships.  Communication.  Tangible Information.  The Betweens:

Music.  Poetry.  Religion.  Philosophy.  Psychology.  Bookselling (bibliotherapy).  Marriages.  Research and reference.  Parenting.  Writing.  Anthropology.  Semiotics.  Neuroscience.  Embodiment.  Systems Theory.  Language.  Ekphrasis.  Communications.  Information Science…

what (it seems) has fueled them all has been a passion, fascination, curiosity and intense desire to search into, understand, sense

HOW HUMAN BEINGS MAKE AND SHARE MEANING

            NOW:  I’m a tangible link in the chain.  A node or circuit in the web of transmission.

 

Divorce summons, a lover’s plaint, news of a long-lost classmate or childhood friend, money for a meal, Christmas gifts for grandchildren, links between parents and children, carrier of bills and obligations that alter our lives – invitations to weddings, announcements of deaths, retirements, coupons and births, biological specimens and literary manuscripts, art works, seeds, music, books, clothes and toys…

from here to there, there to here

how often I have rushed to the mailbox,

how often I have posted letters,

how often the holding of a living personal document has made a difference in my life…

 

These are what I think of as I dig through bins, collocate numbers, sort and file, casing mail, and rattle and drag my way through any weather, mood or condition to securely, confidentially and certainly deliver the mail…

In a great meanwhile…

…after three years working from home like a dream – researching, academics, creative writing and art-making; love with a tremendous spouse, and a generous and flexible availability to my amazing children…

it is now turning into months of spouse-lessness, unemployment, harried by survival efforts, sustenance, hours upon hours of therapy, grief, anger, puzzlement, bewilderment, and wonder…

CHANGE

A sustained period of invaluable interactions and dad-ness will be swallowed up bouncing wash-boarded gravelly roads placing packages and envelopes in sturdy boxes of farms.  Fighting for moments with children, opportunities to claim that I am here for them.  To study.  To write.  To read or rest or be…to grocery and launder, housekeep, to play.

Relocating yet again a sense of home.

            For our part – four kiddos, their mothers (and their partner/spouses) and I (and mine) – we have survived, adapted, adjusted and altered much in the past two decades.  Time/little time, retail/academia/schlepping/poverty/art – proven resilient, pliable, innovative, possible – committed or interdependent on one another and have formed and become, ached and angered, wept and worried, laughed and lost, suffered and rejoiced and survived and thrived…

continued…(“I can’t go on.  I’ll go on.”)

and we’re a pretty wonderful, remarkable, heart-stopping, difficult bunch!

 

A biological, literate, artistic, psychological, cultural, spiritual, relational, musical, playful, emotional, terrified, successful, wounded, smart, creative, clinical, authentic, unusual, “awkward,” bunch of “weirdies” (kids’ favorite terms)

and I hope and I trust

SURE OF ONE ANOTHER

…ever subject to change…

but together.

USPS logo

Opening the Hand

Mapping the Meaning

What follows will most likely be of little interest to the bulk of you.  For the past few years I have been working to drive and weave the resources for my writing ever more densely into the thickety webs of my authentic experience of the world.  Normally I press this through interdisciplinary inquiry into ways we make meaning, or co-construct what we live as relational/relating realities, attempting the time and effort of translating and investigating these passions and fascinations through creative genres and forms.  However,  life events of the past couple of months have greatly constricted available moments or periods for research and reflection, and magnified the complexity and overwhelming magnitude of our multi-layered, cross-scaled, relativity-dimensioned (see Multi-Sense Realism, et. al.) actual experience of living as human beings.

The most authentic and naked (or base) way I have had of “making sense” of my experience has been, for most of my life, to do it on blank pieces of paper with a writing utensil in hand.  This has enabled my body, like a court stenographer or EKG, to jitter out marks and symbols of what happens to it, get strange glances at the process, notate various strata of its responsive-formative interactivity and selection, and extend/diminish/further and edit or retract (evolve) its activity of living survival.

The past 65 days have been characterized for me by grief and bewilderment, gratitude and wonder, tectonic shifts and rejoined connections, breakings and openings, terror and panic and archaic survival strategies, and desperate hope and frenzied imaginings…I suppose you could call it trauma, dramatic change, upheaval…LIFE.

I’ve been fairly caught up in processing it all (with dear good help), parenting my children, continuing academic study and frenetically seeking employment that it all might go on.  So I feel my posting of late has been fragmented, disorganized, spotty, haphazard, almost accidental…

I have found employment – fraught with uncertainty still, but employ – and something about that one structural determinant has triggered me to assay an account, as much for myself as for anything else…to make the time to manufacture a kind of map for myself of what has and is occurring in my life in this span.

All of this is to say that I plan a series of posts that will be intensely personal, self-revelant, my own way of reaching toward my experience, my being, and selecting language with which to mark it down – for re-memory, re-cognition, observation, reception, attention, account.  These are journal entries, frankly.  They are what I have to write.  I am calling them “Mapping the Meaning.”  Since I know very few of you personally, in your whole presence, I expect confession, inquiry, and its self-circular expression to genuinely interest or benefit very few of you.  For me, it is writing with an open hand.

photo 2-001

.

 

Where we exist…how

I was going to type a long set of excerpts…but so much nicer for you to get some of the full sense yourselves… if you have the time… it’s worth it – to interact with a resource external to yourself and see how that creates what we commonly think of as “cognition”… like my hands typing this message that you are going ‘outside’ of yourself to utilize toward meanings….

Clark - Supersizing(click on the picture for extended excerpts…and extending your world)

And then there’s this…This will destroy you

Memory + expected future = obscure present, distorted present, non?-present?

And then there’s this…

Should you be able to manage it…

11 minutes of solitude, today…

if you have nice noise-reducing headphones – even better!

if you can find a spot by the sea, by a slow-moving river,

some room in the home unlikely to be entered

a porch, in view of trees,

door shut, lying on bed…

car seat back parked remotely, inviolately…

anywhere

you might be able to be immersed

for 11 minutes

alone

with this

and allow

and for no reason pause before the 8.44 mark.

THIS WILL DESTROY YOU

In Strange States and Finding Delight : Questions on Being Well and Doing Well

 “Nothing that is complete breathes.”

-Antonio Porchia-

Description:  Flux.  By its very nature, significant change is unsettling, disregulating and life-altering.  Over the past 6-8 weeks I have lost spouse, employment, my personal and relational rhythms and schedule, the savings in my bank account depleted.  I have applied for over 180 jobs, written as many cover letters, tweaked as many resumes, attempted to keep up with my coursework, and take good care of my four amazing children who abide with me.  Each week in therapy (without doubt a literal life-saving engagement) the session will end with something like curiosity at just how uncertain, good, terrifying, significant, painful, frightening, moving, difficult and meaningful the week’s happenings are.  I have felt I am living multiple lifetimes of experience in each 7-day period.  Inherently, overwhelming are experiences that cannot be described, portrayed, understood or explicated.  These are strange statesdevoid of much that could be regulating or structuring, a wild gyre of hope and despair, connection and separation, exhaustion and inspiration.  Strange states.

One of the things that has pestered and picqued me this past week is a growing recognition that most of the people I know – friends, peers, acquaintances, relatives – are people that can DO almost anything well, even exceptionally.  Humans have such an uncanny adaptive ability to (as Kafka says) “wriggle through.”  My people are the sorts of persons who find satisfaction and contentment in being well – the activity of living itself, ever specific to context, is its own contentment and satisfaction, often regardless of what they are doing (it seems).

From early on, many of us were instructed to “follow your passions,” or “use your gifts and talents,” another way, I am thinking, of saying FIND DELIGHT.  Delight, it seems to me, is that tone of experience we incur when both being and doing provide utmost satisfaction and contentment for our individuated and particular “selves.”  Moments such as that first eye contact that seems comprehending, recognizing between the infant you have brought into the world and love so much and yourself.  Moments often termed “flow” – when your ache to express and the form of your expression seem to unite, resonate – in whatever medium you most enjoy – dancing, painting, writing, conversing, thinking, playing, sculpting, calculating, making music, serving others – whatever it is that brings you joy coupling with your own unique history and experience and way of being.

And here’s the rub:  in our authentic relationships, most of us have a good sense between us of what it is that makes our “others” tick, or thrive, their core desires and wishes, delights and strengths.  HOW they like to be WHO they are.  My friends who love to observe and capture beautiful moments, create photographs, artefacts of world/self combined are often selling insurance, teaching classes, running cash registers.  My friends with conceptual strengths and reflective panache – philosophers with ever-evolving ideas and visions of the world and how it functions – are often administering organizations, delivering mail, stocking grocery shelves.  My friends who thrive in drama and play, or sport and music, or math and surfing – end up spending their days repairing roofs or selling shoes, concocting coffee or serving food, mowing lawns or teaching children.  AND THEY ARE EXCEPTIONAL AT WHAT THEY DO!

The rub:  When people are being wellit seems they do well, regardless of whether the task or activity would inherently give them delight.  It is the being that delights them, and they infuse whatever they do with that wonder and wealth.  The query:  is there, when is there, how is there – the possibility of (remember, our lives are brief) – combining our capacities for being well with those things we most enjoy doing well and might that not result in a life characterized by delight ?  Is it possible to insist on?  And is one able to survive?  As I search for work – I realize just how many things I am able to do well – like so many others – and that doing well at things has a certain level of satisfaction because one is being well.  But what joy (remember, our lives are brief) if our lives might be characterized by being well/doing well those things that delight us (nourish our well-being)?  We are social, and because of that our survival depends/inter-depends on one another – and society needs certain things of us – teachers, mail deliverers, food service, grocers, manufacturers, administrators, tax accountants, waste management, shoe repairers, and so on.  We fill these positions FOR one another, for our greater good, making effort to infuse and tweak our responsibilities with as much as we are individually able to also gain some satisfaction and contentment with the ways that we be in those roles.

This question is unclear.  I suppose I am wondering the experience of all of you out there – Is it possible to live a life characterized by delight?  Where we are able to survive being well doing what we most enjoy doing well?  I have yet to fill out the application, sit through the interview for, or see the job posting that asks me to DO WELL WHAT I BE.  Perhaps that is the application of life itself.  Perhaps I will never run across the posting that says – actualize your desire to write – whatever you are compelled to write – and we will make sure you are sustained and healthy.  Any testimonies of conflated being and doing and surviving and thriving out there?

Scripturient“Would there be this eternal seeking if the found existed?”

-Antonio Porchia-

Core Diversion

I’ll admit – I’m pretty proud of this one. Seems I’m getting toward some of those true hard honest realities about how it is for some of us – the terror of actual intimacy, the joy at the idea or feel of it… let me know what you think.

Spoondeep

I do not so much long for someone to love

as I ache to declare and express it

.

It is me desiring to reach and to give

to avoid the distress of receiving

 .

of being “in it” rather than “of” –

having to attend and attune

 .

preferring profusion, profession

and forgetting the “ideas in things”

 .

that reality’s relational,

fundamentally,

 .

opting creation instead, and

demonstrably destitute for it

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ReWritten / ReWriting

accidentally opened a file from the past that seemed related…

reading-writing

The Pleasure of Reading

In other words (than what?  than which?) we all of us are readers, all of us writers.

That is a pleasure.

And all of us, always, doing both.  Simultaneously.

 

Speaking of my textbooks (were we?) – information sciences, developmental and behavioral psychology, reference services, librarianship / and the research to the side – physics, evolutionary biology, neuro- and cognitive sciences / my pleasures – novels, poems, stories, others’ blogs, visual, aural, literary artifacts / my relational – wife, children, family, friends, society, culture – gestures and vibes and dialogues and signs / my “self” – sensations, perceptions, formulations of these, reformulations, adjustments and maneuvers.

In other words, at all times, I am reading, even if only my lack of memorable dreams, or pulses and breaths.  And writing it all in actions, movements, responses, adjustments of speaking and writing and making.

It is a metaphor, obviously.  Perhaps.

 

Roman Jakobsen purported that “all meaning is a form of translation, and multiple translation (polysemy) is the rule rather than the exception.”  (I am translating his text just now into another con-text).

Wolfgang Iser’s (perhaps, anyway insofar as I am translating it here) concept of actual text (text as it is recorded by an author) and virtual text (actual text as read by a reader).

This is an aspect of the deep living pleasures of reading/writing for me.

 

An author/speaker/artist/scientist/mother/etc. has an urge or sensation – a possibility of action/behavior/message/idea (a virtual text) and translates it through multiple processes and levels of activity through some medium into an actual text/painting/utterance/experiment/recorded idea/sound, etc.  There it is in the real world – a physical artifact in time and space – added – if only for a moment.  Transforming (simultaneously) its maker into a recipient (translating a now existent text/sound/behavior/gesture/sculpture/experience for him or herself) and if any witness/participant/auditor/recipient or reader is in his or her environment they are simultaneously interacting (via translation through their own tools, language, perceptions, sensations, mood, etc) with the actual text, writing a virtual text (translating) of their own.

And it goes on.  And can be done innumerable times, this process, whether using an identical actual text over and over, or simply writing/reading life as it occurs, making it occur.

 

Paul Ricouer:  “stories are models for the redescription of the world.”  Possibly.  Or at least redescriptions (translations) of models for redescription.

Iser: “the relative indeterminacy of a text allows a spectrum of actualizations…literary texts initiate ‘performances’ of meaning rather than actually formulating meanings themselves…the reader receives it by composing it.”

 

Language, action, behavior as possibilities rather than certainties.

So that I can encounter with all I’ve encountered/experienced an actual text by psychologist Jerome Bruner translating these very quotes and contents with all he has experienced and translate it with the multiple translations of family life and being a human organism and novels and pains, poems and stories, paintings and laws, translated with data and education, emotions and animals, translating with you and a computer, internet, digits and bits, translating into…

 

a great pleasure of reading is writing reading

or, “a writer’s (reader’s) greatest gift to a reader (writer) is to help him become a better writer (reader)” – Jerome Bruner (parentheses mine).

 

literary texts as “epiphanies of the ordinary”

-James Joyce-