“The Conflux of Floods” : an Imagined Interview


            In a recently daydreamt interview (I realize these may be narcissistic, but they have occurred all through my life, and come to function as ways to take account of myself) – in which I had composed writings that earned critical acclaim AND garnered popular and commercial success (crazy, right?!) – I was being astutely questioned (after all, I am both interviewer and interviewee – it’s a daydream), and pressured to account for both the critical acclaim and the mass consumption of the tangled materials of my celebrated novelistic-poetic-essaying (some multi-genred hodge-podge and hurly-burly’d collaging of human inscription).   [Which is also, obviously, occurring in this everyday attempt at its retelling].  For better or worse.

By any account, each time I endeavored to formulate an answer to reckon for the apparent realities under fantasized questioning, I was foiled – ultimately unable to appropriately language ANYthing I strove to express – for the fundamental reason that the shared social convention of language – the available (or known) English nouns, verbs, structures, phrases, vocabulary, ontologies, etymologies, forms, content and context seemed false to my meaning as soon as I spoke them.

I would begin to assay a response, and each available term (even though utilizing an extensive and deft, adept English vocabulary) – each word I was choosing – would seemingly cancel itself.  I was caught in pregnant pauses – an author seeking a term – and the accessible signs and sounds of an encyclopedic dictionary all clanged untrue – inaccurate, incomplete and implausible – incorrect!

The interview proceeded (notably un-entertainingly and un-interestingly) with solid and well-considered queries posed from the history of human making, reflection and inquiry…followed by prolonged silences as I contemplated what might be honest, authentic replies…resulting in the beginnings of obsessive-compulsive, over-thought, manically scrutinized hesitations – cancelled out and undone, revised and corrected, taken back or erased as soon as they were spoken.  Simultaneously to becoming aware of their possible interpretations – conventionalized meanings gassing the atmosphere – the breath and air of their saying and hearing.

For example:  “Well, I think that authors…how could I speak for others…it seems to me…no that’s not right,” or, “It is my intuition, sense of things…my felt experience… no, that’s not quite it.”  “As the mind processes the body’s…wait…what is not body about the mind?  Our language presents a splitting of the two that was never there…I mean…no, no, this is inadequate…” and so on.  Nothing being said.

“Ever try.  Ever fail.  No matter.

Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.”

-Samuel Beckett-

            The failure of the interview eventually came around to the following… a couple responses that might represent something almost accurate, maybe.  May communicate a touch of something authentic, honest.  It has stuck with me for a few days, and yet I can’t quite be sure…

A question arose concerning what I might have done, or be doing if I had fathered less children, were not bound to sustaining a family, and so on… I reflected awhile… and soon realized that I am unable to imagine my life without offspring.  Nearly half of my existence has been lived as a father, and I cannot think of experiences or expressions that they do not co-create in some way.  If any of it were taken back – the struggles and fears, broken marriages, anxiety, joys and determination to survive, regular interactions with their development, activities, quizzings and personalities… I only feel impoverished.

The illusional interview concluded with a large catch-all question, something along the lines of: “Your writings have profoundly moved some readers, yet you consistently express discontent – revising, beginning again, evading – even disappointment in your faltering, hesitant works.  Can you talk about this experience?  How do you account for your dissatisfaction in light of your readers reported satisfaction?”

My reply:  “The only way I can think to address this right now is in terms of a conflux of flood waters.  I, the writing one, have a flood of experience that I wish to understand, interact with, relate to somehow, attempt to comprehend.  I utilize the methods, marks and systems that we, as a species over time, have collaborated and devised with which to communicate – with ourselves, with others – and I attempt, attempt, attempt to forge some accord between the vast swarming flood that my life-experience ever is – as an organism embedded in world – and the means and methods we have for making sense of, imagining, and transcribing such total experiential flow.”

“The resulting expression is always more-than, distinct and different-from the felt experience I have of the flood (as the medium borrows from far beyond my own individual abilities or thoughts, capacities – an enormous fund of expressions, vocabulary and species-deep conventionalized experiences I could not possibly evince on my own) AS WELL AS less-than, deficient, incapable and variant from (not equal to) the ubiquity of my experienced flood.  I am left simultaneously hoping the conventions of language will prove adequate, and despairing they never will be.  What results from this tangle is a writing – a text, document, artifact – of my individual attempts to process the flood of my human experience in conventionalized signs.”

“From the other side of the markings comes the flood of each individual reader’s human experience.  As they (or we, I’m describing my reading experiences) engage the verbal expressions the writer selects to represent or elicit their own flood, the reader’s flood rushes through, around, with, into these written expressions.  When what is deciphered via these conventional funds of language feels apropos, accurate or apt to the reader’s experiential living flood – we are moved, feel met, acknowledged and represented, almost comprehended and understood, and we may feel that this collection, order, expression of language we have discovered in reading actually writes us, so to speak.  Which is why you may hear readers say such things as “I couldn’t have said this better…” or “I can’t imagine this expressed any other way…let me read it to you” (the thrust of quotation).  The section of text, general outlook, sound, rhythm or content of the artifact feels almost miraculously adequate and accurate to our own flood of experience.  Of course, often it does not – in which cases we revise or repurpose our readings toward knowledge or entertainment, something partial or other than full-flood experiencing, holistic (as nearly as possible) communication.”

“We know, as readers, no Other’s experience can be identical to our own, but in lucky moments it feels so.  Feels possible that our experience of the living flood is shared, understood, that our individuality, solipsism is not a locked room, or impassable barrier.  This is the “magic,” if you will, of human social conventions as mediums for individual experiences: they enable or facilitate our joinings, our cooperation, solidarity, convergence.”

“So neither the writer nor the reader are responsible for authoring profound writings, or rather BOTH are: multiple floods of experience crash through the arranged signs and symbols, separated by time and space and differences, but still possible violent confluences – depending on both, or all.  Living experiencings rushing the sign-sets enabling some felt sympathy, intimacy, accord between the floodings and the expressions: conflux.”

“Otherwise it simply doesn’t ring true – might be appreciated for its artistry or ingenuity, ideas, craft, imagination – but NOT an occasion for profound felt accord, convergence, a totalizing feel of representation/expression.”

“Floods in conflux: right now this seems to me the opportunity that care and attention, effort and awareness of our socially species-al co-creating mediums of communication (art, music, technologies, labors, habitudes, languages, modes of inquiry, etc…) allow for, offer us, in moments of fortunate concord.”

“Does that answer your question in any way?”

Tape ends.


"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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