a small purple artichoke
in its own bittered
grows tender and sweet
patience, I think,
keep testing the spiny leaves
the spiny heart
– Jane Hirshfield
“To read a distant text, distant in space, time, or conceptual world – is a utopian task…The task is one whose initial intention cannot be fulfilled in the development of its activity and which has to be satisfied with approximations essentially contradictory to the purpose which had started it…”
– Ortega y Gasset –
“In that sense the activity of language is in many particular ways utopian: One can never convey what one wants to convey.”
– A. L. Becker –
“it is deficient in the sense that it says less than it wishes to say,
and it is exuberant in the sense that ‘it says more than it plans’
This utopian characteristic of language is a source of flexibility that results from signs that are simultaneously deficient and exuberant.”
– Yair Neuman –
This is what it looks like, in the one hand
Between the Spheres
I try to wrap my mind around it.
An attempt to connect the two – a keen accomplishment (perhaps unique to all the world of humans) – of right knowing what left is doing, and vice-versa.
Lost along the way.
I describe it as a process – indicating neither beginning nor end-directing goal, but rather recursive procedural motions. Realm of natural orders? Reversible time? Or indifferent to?
Can’t tell one from the other – hypothesize function – track trace with technology. Pretend data. Posit interpretation as theory. Wind up again.
Variously termed reentry. Autopoiesis. Self-organization, containment, production. Ouroborous. Infinite regress.
Middle is muddle. Diversely called. Corpus Callosum. Hermeneutics. Subjective objectivity. The observer effect. Confusion.
Fusion-with. Heads and tails are absent, or amount to the same. Keeping an eye (I) on the eye (I), so to speak. There are no levels of perception, simply additive, truly more of the same. No stacking, just tangle. Alongside, underneath, around, beside, below and through, but ever bound by hemispheres.
Imagine dynamo-balls – activated collectives of interdependent energized cells humming, buzzing or otherwise functioning according to their wired connective wholes-in-part. Betwixt the vibratory masses some buffery twingled transmission zone irrepressibly attempting translation of pulse-sorts, glyph-types, data blips…circuitously globe-to-globe.
I try to wrap my mind around it.
Wrapping, coiling, carrying…sire-wires…another organizational knottage of wattage…behavioral systems, courier-tropes, internal/infernal communications rife with all the residual, syntactical, emergent and scumbling give-and-take, mis-interpretation and noise.
Submarines and warships, encryption and decoding, fuzzily idiosyncratic as love or larger loops. Chaos all the way down or ‘round. Patterning bottom’s-up or through.
This is what it looks like, in the one hand.
EVERY HUMAN LIFE IS A STORY THAT COMES TO AN END
selected fictions of self-pity
Maybe this just is the gist of it.
I spend a good portion of my life (such as it is) – all of its waking and sleeping hours anyway – struggling to determine a meaning for it – its meaning (a concept? term? reference?) on its own that I may have very little luck determining or understanding.
This elusive compendium of thoughts/feelings (EXPERIENCE I’ve corralled with the sound/shape ‘meaning’) – how might it be described? explained? : What might it … ahem … ‘mean’?!
Were I to describe it – it would evoke and involve (were I to describe it well) a sense that I was necessary, useful, desired and desirable, of some merit and account, acknowledged, approved, purposive, poignant…whatever those (each) might also ‘mean.’
Something I happen to be “good” at that is also of benefit or boon throughout the world I’m wedded to, both near (intimate, familial, selected-for) and far (given, happenstance, environment).
But what I’m “good at” is “Depression.” The function of slowing and drag…exhibiting sorrow among happiness, erosion within emergence, noising up messages…despair contained in joys. Doubt, skepticism, intricate inevitable workings of what we agree to name ‘death’ intertwingled with what we call ‘life.’
Entropy. Sorrow. Failure. Defeat. Depression. Grief. Doubt.
Self-pitying, self-concerned, self-oriented, self-obsessed…at this I am quite ‘good’ – adept, astute, adroit, capable and facile – of smearing, marring, being sad in circumstances of beauty, of success, of benefit and chance…
My children are healthy, talented, innovative and beautiful. My wife is stunning, accomplished and accomplishing, intelligent, inventive, supportive, sexy and kind. Generous. I am employed in circumstances that suit my learning, commitments and goals. I inhabit relatively stable wards and routines. I am alive, middle-aged without illness, debility, war or threat of imminent dangers. Still expertly I can imbue and include a lowering, slowing, gravitational angst and fear into anything I encounter as ‘good.’
I am ‘good’ at dismantling ‘good.’
Which means (back to ‘meaning!’) I also despise, loathe, resent and regret myself and my operations. Representing wear and tear, unraveling and decoupling, erosion, rust and decay to what strives and conjoins, promises and grows. Somehow, somewhere, in some indisputable and unignorable way I am married to disorder.
When I strive to sing, express or communicate – what emits is disturbance and noise. When I construct, I create mayhem. When I combine – I fall apart.
Significant discoveries during my life-range – their exposition and documentation – include complexity, chaos, emergence, and entropy. These I represent, or so it seems.
Ever unable quite to take credit for accomplishment (chaos, complexity, evolution, emergence); never able to know – to sufficiently understand or trace (dynamic, processual, complex, systemic); yet acutely aware of dissonance and destruction, dis-pair and difference (entropy, chaos, noise). Viral, incipient, parasitic and accidental – I adapt, attach, alter and disrupt – change and undo.
Which makes me sorry in an unstoppable way. Unable, hesitant, terrified, dangerous and afraid. A soiled activity of ground. Questions beggaring and buggering replies. A kind of programmatic cancer, a hitch in the breath, a massage that makes sore.
I message – and fragments. I propose – and divide. Link up by pulling apart. With such yearning – an insatiability for connection and attachment that (frighteningly) never fails to strip, erode, scrape and shred that which it clings to.
Modus operandi: ENTROPY. Clutter, damage, foil. Complication and conundrum. Ant in sugar, weevil to wheat, cog in machinery, speculation to proof. Maxwell’s Demon, uncertainty on principle, the mouldering remainder: “I.”
I the obscure.
unwanted, unwarranted, unsure
I the wobble precipitating break
You colour, I neutralize.
You shine, I dull.
If offered a peaceable end (thinking twice, thinking thousands) I’d accept it – unquestioningly.
This is what he thought of it. What he thinks. This one, inextricable from a world, just like everyone else, part AND parcel, the becoming and become, apparent apparition, here-and-then-gone every one-in-the-many.
He thinks irreplaceably. Nothing without merit. Necessity emerges and occurs. Unstoppably. With(in) all its stoppage and its stopping.
He thinks: “what occurs occurs at once.”
He thinks: “being and nothingness is being in time.”
He thinks: “this is one way of thinking.”
He thinks: “thinking is process.”
Inevitable. And more-than, that.
Stop Making Sense happened at a time that makes sense, and continues to do so. Absorbed into machinery. The operations of ‘reality’ for each type, each kind, each species. And without.
“There does not seem to be a correlation,” he thinks. “Between this one and that, experience and experience (the dog, the tick, the grass; the human, the sun, the soil). A convergence of dependence without necessity.”
He thinks: HER
He thinks: THEM
He thinks in wishes.
He wishes his thoughts. Difference.
He (accidentally) dreams a New Topia.
In this New Topia, a difference. A sense-making, a motile trajectory. A structure to revolutions : convergence + emergence. A hope rather than. Such despair.
He thinks: he reaches, makes effort, attempts.
He wishes: he could do otherwise
He thinks: everything ends
He wishes: something might end in beginning
Because he is able to, he looks at ‘his’ eyes in a mirror. Glasses, no glasses. Hair, hair pulled back and away. Blue. Morose. Green. Avaricious. And blue-grey: Now. Now. Now.
He thinks: I should be brushing my teeth – and always regrets pronouns and possessives. Conventions.
He wishes: there was beyond
He thinks: I exist in my limits
He wishes: possibility
He thinks: organism. finitude.
He writes as he has learned to do so. Using words, made out of letters, infrastructures that – while scrambled and undone, reworked and reordered toward a sort of confusion or unsettling – are still the only means he has…toward anything.
He thinks: “anything resembling anything – these are my limits; and limits = usefulness, probability and possibility, constraints. My hope.”
He wishes: Re-inscribed. Remade. Novel. Capable. Composed. From one-to-one. For her. For them. For ‘It.’ (It: New Topia).
He divests. Dissects. Dissembles.
No one follows his ‘meaning.’
[Therefore it does not mean].
Grown ever-so-tired of options. The limits, precursors, avail. Starts again, but never new.
This is an attempt to bind. To couple.
Writes to forge a chain.
Writes to create connection.
Writes to compose a real accordingly.
The letters, marks, terms and expressions are borrowed, reworked or remade, still. Symbols wide open. Pre-filled, refilled, unmade.
Touch then. Touching nothing new. Touched before. Been touched.
“Nothing new under the sun.” New again under new sun, newly impossible, com-possible. Newly inadequate and all there is…adequate to the necessary task. Ever less. Ever more. Never quite. Never quite common enough. Human. All too human. Never quite common enough.
Dust. Ash. Dust. Ash. Dust. Ash. Dust. Ask.
I am an outdoorsman of the indoors
Maybe I’m meant to be a philosopher – one who asks, observes, thinks + wonders, ponders perspectives, theorizes potential generalities, hopes reports and reflections might “stick” somehow to a wider frame, might be shared, or sound true. Perhaps that’s sociology, or anthropology, or just the case of being a “social animal” – who could say?
I notice a title, er, there is a title I just saw on the spine of a book loaned to me by the library where I work, en-titled “Gesturing Toward Reality”…which, if we believed it, proves another spine in the pile: “The Primacy of Semiosis.” If.
Or as if. Azziff. As. If.
If that’s how-it-is.
(“How It Is” is also in the stack).
As If That’s How It Is
And So It Begins
“And so it goes.”
My house is cluttered. I seem to have a penchant for creators. Not artistes. Perhaps the kids wonder. I task and clean (hardly) in order to order what I can especially whenever anything or everything feels disordered (or I am), but I repeatedly conjoin with those whose vibrancy depends (or seems to) on mess, on possibility and potential, on emergence. Whilst I career about, disordered and emergent, clinging, striving, desperate for order: ordered thoughts, ordered words, ordered places, ordered life. None of which ever even remotely eventuate.
Except perhaps. Or, as if.
Still things settle quickly in me.
Crumble, toss, shred, pile or pack anything about, for, with, around me (even my self with my self, or selves) and it funnels, spirals, gathers – most amazingly efficiently! – in fact quite remarkably and chemical-reactiony to a bottom or base – a dredge, a sludge, a collection of chaos quickly finding its way to a murmur – a melancholy.
What would a writer do? A philosopher? Musician? Psychologist? Lover? Parent? Friend? Any, all of the roles I might enact as parts of my selves? Or…what would I do? What might an I made up of me(s) want to do?
That thing [being, organism]…in moments settled and gathered and overwhelmed – feeling steady, calm and helpless in the face of things – MELANCHOLY – “good” I guess (comparatively – a state in which the energy is gone for acting, for performing in the face, presence or need of another)…particularly:
The thing wants particular music – “sad songs” (Mark Kozelek, Arvo Part, soundtracks, solo piano or cello); a stable table and sheaf of lined blank papers; a Bic Crystal medium ball-point pen in blue or black; 1-3 hours uninterrupted; endless drink equal parts vodka, tonic and 100% grapefruit juice; a cigarette or two; loose layered clothing; and an outside for the inside to poke around in I guess, to hazard (haphazardly).
That’s what I do.
Time and space, a melancholy, a setting…
a vital moisty intimacy with (and only with) the one I love,
desperately (unfortunately) need, desire, crave, wish for…
So – to write.
To leak in a hesitant line. Ink.
To see if the liquid residue scraping looping shapes across light blue lines of snowy-white notebook pages might in-scribe, in-form, make my inchoate choate – make the amorphous and disordered shapely and full, meaningful, possible.
Whether I might accept, discern, agree with something that makes its journey through the networks and passageways that apparently compose me
that might result in something I recognize or comply with, if even only
– like these are the times I stare neither at the bush with its waving tendrils, nor the fence poles they move against, but somewhere in between –
if even only [syn. for withholding judgment] (my drafts are filled with these) to hear the unknown or misremembered word
nothing in focus but an unlabelable feeling
which I call (when required) – “melancholy” –
defining for me something calm, dank, pure, correct –
a sieved and all-accounted-for awareness –
before some crazed and passionate outburst or heat, some diversion of this otherwise apparent cold, wet, burn.
The word I can’t recall (that I need) begins with a “c.” Or perhaps an “a” or “ad-.”
Or maybe something else among its 26 options. 25 really, I use so few that begin with “z.”
Lael asks for statistical proof of decreased attention spans while I get bored of expression, description, “tack”…change the color of my pen and wonder why the average popular song is 3-5 minutes long but novels normally run past 100 pages.
It would seem that we all just want to be and be loved, however we verbalize it.
I still haven’t remembered that word…and refuse to utilize thesauri or Google. Or any alternate synonym finder.
Our value lines seem so personal and arbitrary and irrational (philosopher? Anthro-socio-psycho-logist?).
I want to be intimate with my partner.
In such a way.
In such a way that she understands, comprehends, – EXPERIENCES – how significant, important, crucial, essential
she really (REALLY)
to ‘a’ “me.”
This rambling ridiculous writing
is all, actually, thoroughly,
another misguided attempt to communicate.
Truly or in reality
That I exist in order to be a “me” in relation to a “you.”
It weighs nothing
bears no responsibility
I marry you (again).
I am. A “folded clock.”
If even only undeterminedly, undecided, uncertain, unsure, debatable, dubiously, [all synonyms for withheld judgments].
Not least among the spines arrayed before me: Complexity – My Struggle – The Erotic Phenomenon – Reviving the Living – Experiencing & The Creation of Meaning – Things Merely Are – Intertwingled – and Love.
It occurs to me in matters of most everything that I need / demand / require CONTINUAL PROOF for something – for me – to count as “true” or “actual” – things have to be perpetually evidenced.
Nothing is…but…well…that’s why I trust in death.
A “Book Review” – complements The Whole Hurly-Burly
By Enrique Vila-Matas
We are able to “keep up appearances” – some habitual collage of identities – for quite a long time.
I don’t have ANYthing to say, to speak of, when I encounter – READ – the work of a great writer / a great written work [or writerS – the book above is in translation, and that by two others]. Alas.
Broken. Spellbound. With nothing to add, say, profess, testify – unable to stop speaking.
: Literature, no?
The frozen sea within me (fraud, image, appearance, presentation, mis-representation) AXED?
It feels that way: like being stumped in a crucial interview by a question one never expected – exposed – somewhere beyond your bones – on into some uncanny…
So I read, with the feeling of partaking of fine food outstripping my station. So tasteful, delicious and exquisite that the experience teeters at throw-up or orgasm…nearly too much pleasure…too much exposure…too much experience.
And the concomitant deflation, flattened, realizing that I am none of something, perhaps too many of somethings,
disordered, disorganized, confused.
Vulnerable and laid bare – with nothing showing.
I am not that
Frightening (terrifying even, at some level) and freeing (or, unknown, unpredictable, possible).
Potential, unlikely, impossible to prove or ascertain – uncertainty – unknowable
to my ‘self’ in my body, as a name, or a father, a partner, a person, a friend.
A cipher. Undeserving of accolades or attributions, unaware of facts or characteristics –
just a long train of habits,
histories, perceptions and behaviors. A long, long trail of showing up…taking space…acting…AS.
With nothing else: not more-than or without, not subterfuge or false, no accomplishments or occurrences in lieu of AS.
The residue of NOTHING.
Bereft then, but not of substance. Empty, but not of force. Simply laid bare, examined, investigated…
…and found wanting.
There are things I can perform, ways I interact, roles fulfilled, tasks achieved, conversations replete with reactions and response,
but that is all.
I have a shape, I’ve garnered knowledge, mastered speech and comprehension, can use my cock, can analyze, interpret and produce. Can keep alive and support others, draft language and record. Able to run, walk, sit, stand. To do, make, say and think. In other words – TO BE – and be HUMAN (passably), but undefined, unqualified, ephemerally labeled, nothing “sticking,” “fitted,” by which I might be “called.”
Just a human lacking content, wriggling survival as a beast. An educated beast. And unwitting, unaware and unforeseen.
AN EMPTY ‘I’. (Replace with senses – it means the same). A processing thing, operative organism – a complex or compound of certain circumstances, situations, affordances, of contexts. But nothing special, just unique. An additional example of a being.
Being false. In sense of veiled, covered over, costumed and behaved. Or misbehaved, rankly naked, shown-up short, struggling by.
It doesn’t matter as a seem or even category, division, or multi-ply. Can’t reach zero, can’t be counted, a kind of circumstance of pi. A virtual reality that’s not quite real, not loved quite right to rub it so.
A becoming, misshapen, and clumsily adorned, fooling-no-one. There is no one. Only you. Me. Us.
“an unleashing of erroneous energy”
Derivative and fake. A mistake, mistake uncalled-for and unnecessary, and untoward. A simple “me.” Empty. Formed.
An empty ‘I’ inside myself (shelf, shell).
In any order, or, perhaps,
this repeated event of searching for blank pages only to find potential fertility in those already filled…
entries uncovered from March 2015
“WHEREOF ONE CANNOT SPEAK, THEREOF ONE MUST BE SILENT”
HO SCIENCES, LOGICS, TECHNO-LOGICS AND MATHEMATICIANS!
PROGRAMMERS, DOCTORS, PHILOSOPHERS & ANALYSTS!
You have your discourses and discoveries, practices and spheres of operability!
You designate your domains through terms and definitions –
What is allowed and disallowed.
Vowed and disavowed.
Whoever’s drawing lines of this and that, of here or there, of yes and no.
Whomever feeds the fuel of contradiction, against the singing speaking styles.
Whoever revels in dichotomy, clarity and divisions –
DIVERGE and then stay silent.
In complexity you must not speak,
on recursion and convergences be still,
traversing intersects and margins,
knotting nexuses and networks,
these zones your symbols will not call,
fringes disciplined discourses unable to name, locate, determine (undermine?)
REVEAL in complex approach – our work of ambiguity – perplexing and puzzling, unfathomable and obscure – in-determinate we sing, in language hard to cipher, discourse discomposing and dispossessed, polyphonious and multi-vocal, holding harmonies in dissonance
Whereof can I speak?
I speak of pie. Fruit pies. My mother’s. Yet I cannot speak, for I have never figured out how they can be the way they are.
I sing to love. Great love. Experiences and events so totalizing in kind that one fears one will not survive them. And then does. Yet I cannot speak to it because I am unable to account for it, explain it, or…
WRITING MEANS CLIMBING THE STEPS OF OUR LACK
as if the aim of writing were to use what is already written as launching pad for reading the writing to come
Things one realizes about oneself when one is “partnered” or loved well. That seems to be the theme for me of late. The differences between “automatic” self-recrimination when the Other speaks of an annoyance or a threat to useful relating vs. a kind of awareness and curiosity about one’s own behaviors that opens up understanding and attention related to the same habitual practices…
For instance. For years, the only tattoo I got that was not an author or artist’s name / signature / or self-portrait, was a whim of “…and then there’s me…”: and I had a simple Ouroboros inked into my shoulder. The snake eating its own tail. Sign of health, sign of destruction. Sign of…
What’s in a “sign?” A fundamental query ruling the bulk of my waking hours, and carried over from my sleep.
THIS NIGHT. Reading others’ words it dawns on me…”My biography is my catalog. But the man who was there before I decided to become a reader is missing. I, in short, am missing.” [Vila-Matas – Dublinesque]
I, in short, am missing. So long accustomed to defining and describing myself in relation to world, others, children, parents, education, travels, experiences, friends…roles, behaviors, actions, theories, ideas, feelings…and so on…
Each scenario, event, surround, circumstance, company : co-creating WHO / WHAT I am – with no idea what “I” might be stripped of literature, philosophy, family, knowledge, accomplishments, relationships, language, interpretations, and so on…
I had marked myself with “signs” of who I “am” for my children postmortem. OTHERS. Read these people, look at these artists, think about these things…and you will have some idea of who your father “was” – Nathan Filbert – a bibliography.
I AM what I am related to. Never being able to come to the end of it…I do not know what/who I am.
I can say something of the how…which felt like a revelation on me of why the most off-handed permanent mark I requested to be inscribed into my body has come to feel most adequate / representative / apt / true?
The how is like this. I recognize in intimacy and dialogue with a loving other (my partner) over time habits of mind: annoyances, arrogancies, logorrhea, unwise knowledge-sharing (always borrowed)…INSECURITY, self-doubt, terror, UNCERTAINTY.
In most seconds of my awakeness two things are tangled, wound, immediate, simultaneous, recursive and self-devouringly going on: WHAT AM I DOING/WHAT AM I? and WHY?
My children run in, blast a request that feels like a demand – at the kitchen counter I: what am I hearing? What am I feeling about what I’m hearing? Why am I feel-hearing that? What should I do? Why do I think ‘should’? How should I respond? Why do I think there’s a ‘should’-how to respond?
On the porch reading with coffee: Why do I cross my legs? Why do I like coffee? What am I looking at? Why does a squirrel catch my eye? Why did I choose these glasses? Why am I thinking about these things? Is this what others think about? What ‘should’ I be thinking about? Why ‘should’? How should I work? How should I think? Why do I think I should have a way of thinking? Why do I think about the way that I sit? What kind of being thinks about the way it sits when it thinks on a porch and is distracted by a squirrel?
WHAT AM I?/WHAT AM I DOING? and WHY? leading to HOW?
What am I doing? Looking at letters on a screen. Why do I look at these letters on a screen? Why does language move me, draw me, resonate? What is resonating? Why? Should other things be resonating? I enjoy looking at my love. Am I looking in the ‘right’ way? Why do I enjoy looking at my love? How should I look at my love? Why do I look at my love? What kind of thing is drawn to gaze at his love? What is love? Why do we love? How should we love / might we love? Why do I hold books certain ways. How do I hold them? How might I hold them? Why? What kind of thing thinks about how and why and what he holds? What was that tone? Why that tone? What kind of being uses that tone?
And so on. Moment after moment. I get a drink. Why did I get a drink. Why was I thirsty. What does it mean that I was thirsty. How should I vary what I drink to my thirst? Why?
Rarely do I consider “Who” does these things. It’s too far removed. Too unknowable – beyond any what/why/how I can even begin to contemplate.
But constantly constantly constantly WHAT AM I DOING? WHAT AM I? (in this situation, this situation, this situation) and WHY? HOW?
And this is how my days pass. Finding myself moving, teaching, listening, talking, drinking, eating, loving, avoiding, forgetting, imagining, smelling, saying, wishing, regretting, ashamed, confused, uncertain, unknown…but always searching, observing, inquiring, scrutinizing…
WHAT AM I DOING? WHAT AM I that DOes such things? WHY am I doing them? HOW ‘should’ I do them and where/why/what/who thinks of ‘should’? WHY?
And finding nothing but infinite tangles, recursive spiraling production and reduction, endless context surrounding every moment that is constructed only of questions and hypotheses…
I chose a good tattoo.
Permanently self-devouring and regurgitant.
Self-Imitations of Myself. (Gordon Lish)
perhaps shed light on through an-other?
“A single voice raises the clamor of being”
Wanderings & observations
Understanding ourselves and the world we live in.
-the near-unconsciousness of possible meanings -
Daydreaming and then, maybe, writing a poem about it. And that's my life.
Information hygiene for the Covid-19 infodemic
Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar. Wayfarer, there is no way. You make a way as you go. (Antonio Machado)
all that inspires, shocks and makes me purr
Freyja Howls is a writer, performer and activist who would have been a style icon and comedian a century ago.