The Need for Help

“I am affected not just by this one other or a set of others, but by a world in which humans, institutions, and organic and inorganic processes all impress themselves upon this me who is, at the outset, susceptible in ways that are radically involuntary.  The condition of the possibility of my exploitation presupposes that I am a being in need of support, dependent, given over to an infrastructural world in order to act, requiring an emotional infrastructure to survive.  I am not only already in the hands of someone else before I start to work with my own hands, but I am also, as it were, in the ‘hands’ of institutions, discourses, environments, including technologies and life processes, handled by an organic and inorganic object field that exceeds the human”

  • – Judith Butler –

Howitis - Beckett


He cried, it cried, I cried.  But help, it will not come, for me.  And why should it?  Who could owe me assistance, and why?  And what would it benefit another? Even how might the crying become?  Often silent, unheard; a gesture or tone; a constant “I am unable to do this alone.”  There’s no reason.  No reason that someone might help me.

Help has come.  Many times, and that greatly.  Otherwise I would not be alive.  Irrational, inconceivable, as ‘last measure,’ – the cry’s been expressed, even shouted or posted: “I need help or we will not survive!”  And it’s come.  Never “I.”  The yelp always weighted with “we.”  In deep over my head as a man, as a father, a worker and thinker as well – always “help!?”  Needing contact or touch or attention.  Needing hearing or care or advice.  Needing teaching, protection, support.  Needing money or sitters or transport.  Needing food.  Needing shelter.  Such needs.

I need help.  “I.”

Whatever effects or affects, I believe that I do try to help.  To have food for my children, and beds.  To respond to emotional traumas, disturbs – to hear and attend and comply.  To love others embodied and minded.  Within (my) reason, I do what I can to assist, especially those gathered about me.  I experience my’self’ as RESPONSE-able – once engaged there’s a sense that I must.  Some say that we choose to do good – but I question.  Many insist we always have  choice, yet I seem unable to abandon or neglect, unless, perhaps, my “self” or theoretically.  I am prone to the “people are people” – shaped by time and engagements – to behave in the world as they are, and continue the way that they be (in small measure).  The issues of scale and of time.  We do what we can to survive.  Some prone to survival of others, some not.  Depends on the value of “self,” so it seems.  I help, which develops that value (I hope).  To think I might matter, be dependable/depended on, be important – to someone, somewhere, at some time. Survive.

And I notice myself ever howling for help.  Help!?   As I age, I distinguish the needs.  Need for contact and talk – to think and to feel; needing help with evolving demands.  “Man,” “parent,” “student,” “professional,” – all extensions of what I once was – just a “human.”  I can’t even survive being that, let alone all these complex designations.  Artificial “helps” like alcohol or nicotine, religious belief or “self-help” seem to do as much harm as relief.  As babies and aged we are weakened…our “primes” occasioned by a nexus of supports.  In our weakness, we comprehend need(s).

I need.  “Help!?”

Without knowing what it is or might look like.  I know that I’m drowning.  I age.  I know no one owes it, the benefits would have to be rationalized.  I fail.  I can’t go on.  I must go on.  I go on.


You must go on, that’s all I know. 

            They’re going to stop, I know that well:  I can feel it.  They’re going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts?  It will be I? 

            You must go on. 

            I can’t go on.          

            You must go on. 

            I’ll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any – until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it’s done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.) 

            It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don’t know, I’ll never know: in the silence you don’t know. 

            You must go on.          

            I can’t go on. 

            I’ll go on.

–Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable


Needing the Other

Ghandi - Interdependence

Sometimes we weep, “I need you so much.”


Do we grieve from the weight of the need?

Or the needing of differing things?

Do we weep that our need’s not provided?


We need.

And need differing things.

And need other than can be provided.


As long as the grief is not shame.

For what harm in need?

Like anything else,

we depend

-in truth-

on a world

made of so many

things –

to exist, to alive,

to continue.


And why not one another?


I am and you are

Without which we are not


That is need,

that is all,

that is fact.


Without air, food or water

the body declines.

Without commerce,


the mind will not thrive.

Without you

what is I

will diminish.


That is nature.


There’s no shame in the needing.

No recall in the fail.

The “meeting” is all –

the approach and response,

the expression of need

and its answer.


Insufficient and varied,

incomplete and alloyed,

is never the fault of the need –

only moment.


“I need you,” I weep,

and I do, it is true,

and the you that is current

needs me.

That is all.

It is fact.

It’s the case.

We can change it, okay.

We can do.


But the need will remain,

because that’s how we are

dependent by nature

on nature, on world,

on persons and places and things –

on each other.


We’re human, you see?

Altogether because

We BE from the CAUSE

of each other.

Something Becoming…Shaking a rattle


“our fear: this is what we are made of: our weakness”

– Helene Cixous

“A flock of birds turning in the sky is doing something that people don’t know how to do: moving together, beautifully, without a leader or choreographer…I study ant colonies, and how they get things done without any central control.”

– Deborah M. Gordon in Lukas Felzmann’s Swarm


“Let us agree to apply the word ‘talk’ to all ways of experiencing sensations, actions, and ideas in signs of any kinds, and also to all ways of interpreting signs, and [let us] apply this word ‘sign’ to everything recognizable whether to our outward senses or to our inward feeling or imagination, provided only it calls up some feeling, effort, or thought…Nothing does speak for itself, strictly nothing, speaking strictly.  One cannot bid his neighbor good morning, really, effectually, unless that neighbor supplies the needed commentary on the syntax.  If he does not, I might as well shake a rattle.”

– Charles S. Peirce

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