from Michel Serres’ Troubadour of Knowledge
“To recognize yourself in… To multiply your likenesses”
And what do you suppose it is to be a “Nathan Wayne Filbert” human? To be named? Alias Harlequin?
What do you suppose it might be like to be “Ida Sophia Lind Filbert”? “Jada Lynette Smith”? “Oliver Myshkin”?
“Hallie Noel Linnebur”?
“Tristan Rene Wells Filbert”? “Simon H. Lilly”? “Aidan Stafford”? “Herman Melville”? “Paul Feyerabend”? “Rachel S. Como”? “Paul O’Callahan”? “Meghan Miller”? “Jim H. Charles?” “Warren Charles Farha”? “Amanda Marie Lind”? “Fernando Pessoa”?
A cow. A particular cow – an Hereford – on a particular plot of land in Mitchell County, Kansas?
“Plato”? “Kathy Downes”? “Ortho Stice”? A Welsh Corgi “Tippy”? “Napoleon Bonaparte”? “Charles S. Peirce”? The clerk at the grocery store? “Christopher Fynsk”? That Forest Ranger? A pet hamster “Jacques”? “Claudius”?
WHY SHOULD ANY ONE HUMAN BE ANY MORE INTERESTING THAN ANOTHER?
WHY SHOULD ANY ONE ORGANISM BE ANY MORE INTERESTING THAN ANOTHER?
What means: “EFFECT”?
“William Shakespeare”? “Avital Ronell”? “God”? “John Wayne Gacy”? “Helena Bonham Carter”? “Microsoft”? A caterpillar (be specific)? “Mahatma Ghandi”? A sparrow? Molecules composing particular dust?
how are we able to ask that question?
WHAT ARE WE?
how might we be “WHOs”?
What might it be like – as a “Nathan Wayne Filbert” (Nobody) – to BE a “Nathan Wayne Filbert” (A body)?
I’m not sure HOW to answer that.
“Perhaps writing means overcoming all resemblances within the very heart
of resemblance, being finally like yourself, like nothing.”
- Edmond Jabes –
i.e. How that can be answered.
– WHO or WHAT answers – ?
WHAT MIGHT IT BE LIKE…TO BE?
(qualified to ANSWER)
can ANYthing “answer”?
does “answering” imply “language”?
WHAT IS AN ANSWER?
(in relation to – ?)
What is(?) Nathan Wayne Filbert, Alias Harlequin?
IS “Nathan Wayne Filbert”?
WHAT IS IS?
WHAT IS A QUESTION? And WHY/HOW can a question be asked?
WHAT IS IT – are our – ideas? – To “IMAGINE”?
what are ideas?
What might it be to “conceive”?
“to generate concepts” (D&G)
framings of our world-experience
WHAT is a “person”? HOW? WHY? WHO?
Always and ever – HOW & WHY can we / do we ASK?
(in/with all this)
it would seem
it seems that something begins in/with questioning
Alias Harlequin, i.e.
– the one whom this effects, the one on whom this has effect, the one (same? No!) affected by him or her, by whom and it. By this. This. That. By Other, others, and therefore, Alias again, patchworked and quilted, becoming, undoing, altering. Alias.
“Presumably most writers have many more ideas than they are able to act on”
– Ivan Vladislovic, The Loss Library –
Alias Harlequin – identities – is as is affected, effects, effected with/by.
Alias, i.e. as effected by “Hallie Noel Linnebur”; as effected (generated? Co-composed-with-) “Pauline Margaret Kresin Filbert”; the St Bernard “Zorro”; a specific train on a particular journey at a particular time; that mountain in that moment; Dec. 16, 1997 – a flu; and so on…
Alias – as situated in moments – e.g. “each one.” Harlequin – the human surname quilted with environment (micro-to-macro) in concourse. “Alias” as the “name in shreds” – the fragmentary and provisional, pragmatically specifiable address.
Ambiguous and fluid (like “river” itself – capable of designation but inconsistently contained) transient yet locatable, in form…perhaps. Yet no. “Alias” perhaps the medium (in-between) of morphing form and varying substance – what nothing also is (is not).
Name/term/signal/sign (“Alias”) as related to HNL, Dr. K, Dostoevsky, rustled grass, these sounds, this space-time and its company (surround) and then again, these again (but never “again”) – designating “NOWs”. Perhaps. It depends.
What or Who, How “Alias Harlequin” ALWAYS depends on a totality of other dependencies, as it were (or is?) “As such.”
Alias Harlequin, representative? Not that can of worms. AND the “thing” itself? (network of momentary dependencies-in-relation)?
What might we call (it/him/etc.) then? And what would “calling” be/do – how?
This Alias Harlequin.
“I am already so much the inscription of a divergence…What I was, if that could be described, was a whirlwind of tensions…”
“A word is binding and at the same time breaks our bonds.
To which of them shall I, one day, owe my freedom?”
“To one only. Your name in shreds.”
-Edmond Jabes, Book of Resemblances–
The Harlequin can’t remember. Harlequin patchworks a quilt.
- RR 1 Box ?? Clearwater, Kansas
- ???? Independence – Wichita, Kansas
- Jerusalem, ISRAEL (dorms)
- ??? Ash – Hays, Kansas
- 2505 Cardinal Drive – Wichita, Kansas
- Penndel (Langhorne?), Pennsylvania (apartment complex)
- 5711(?) N. Athenian – Wichita, Kansas
- Glen Elder, Kansas
- Heidelberg, GDR
- Somewhere near Orme & Edgemoor – Wichita, Kansas
- Portland, Oregon
- Sellwood, Oregon (duplex)
- 11?? Willow Drive – Wichita, Kansas
- 508 N. Belmont – Wichita, Kansas (son & daughter born)
- ???? (house) – Grand Rapids, Michigan
- ???? Cornell – Grand Rapids, Michigan
- L—– Switzerland
- Alt—- UK
- 1151(?) Hermitage – Grand Rapids, Michigan (son born)
- 350(?) S. Clifton – Wichita, Kansas (son born)
- New Hope, Pennsylvania
- 3028 E 2nd N – Wichita, Kansas
In no particular order. Revisits. Can’t remember much. Side streets, neighborhoods – nothing is familiar. More apt to recall where friends or lovers lived than “self.” Makes a list:
-Baxtrom – Welch – Kremenak – Kruse – Evans – Lathrop – Keil – Allen – Erickson – Welch – Rose – Martha – Neel/Franklin – Krieger – Fall – Bond – Franz – Jones – Hartig – Russell – Griffin – O’Callahan – Farha – Goldbarth – Coleman – Harder – Reffner – calls them “foundational relations” – friends and lovers slewn together.
May as well include family – origins – surnames:
Alberts * Fishers * Kresins : Filberts * Foos’s * Deutsches
And those with whom he converged DNA: Wells / Grovers ^ Linds / Zogelmans
Or those with whom he co-habited: Lathrop – Beckman – Linnebur
Considers the places stitched in/with:
CO, CA, NY, MA, MS, VA, FL, KY (Berry), AR, OR, TN, NC, SC, AL, OK, TX, NM, UT, AZ, ID, NE, WY, MT, WA, DC, WV, ME, CT, NH, DE, PA, MI, IL, MN, NJ, NH (Hall), VT (Buechner), NV, MO, GA, KS : Switzerland, GDR, Hungary, Holland, Syria, Egypt, Italy, Mexico, UK, France, Canada, Czechoslovakia (no more), Austria, Lebanon
the co-created organisms: Tristan, Aidan, Ida, Oliver
and domesticated mammals: Cracker, Andromeda, Nicodemus, Gizmo, Zorro, Tippy, Freddy, Indigo, Scarlet, Max, Zazie – probably more…
self-selected (!?) identities:
Dostoevsky, Giacometti, Kafka, Lispector, Cixous, Blanchot, Nietzsche, Jabes, Beckett, Wm. James, CS Peirce, Lorca, Wittgenstein, Rilke, Pessoa, Schiele, DF Wallace, Kozelek, Musil, Fernandez…and those lying in wait: This Will Destroy You, Vila-Matas, Marcus…Harlequin has inscribed in his flesh.
Might be useful to make a story.
The way things are – with everything falling apart, coming undone, wearing down or out, dwindling in function – calls for such measures – i.e. fitted to new purposes, given new life, repurposed, renamed, remixed, restored.
Making lists against memory. Visiting / revisit. Trying.
It’s coming apart.
He’s worked long in this manner.
Something breaks or dies, goes defunct…fix it with change.
Washing machine, body parts, relationships, parents. Tools or appliances, activities and paths… rather than forcing some obedience to its past or presence – alter the context (as large as it needs to be – micro to macro) round about it, until its usefulness is assuaged or established, regained or reconstructed. Until it makes sense – AS-IS-NOW.
“Presently” includes all of above. His body – losing ‘shape,’ gaining aches, kinks, and torsions; doorways and windows, paint and light fixtures; machines and vehicles grinding down – leaking, cracking, and broken; dwindling desires of his partner; increased independence and mystery of his offspring…nothing quite capable of ‘control.’ Employer threats of performance and reviews; family tensions of politicized faiths; stamina shot as both parent and friend; patient lover and male…
…all it requires a new mythology – some new scaffolding – structure and content and aim.
What story is. What languaging is for. Imagine – abstraction and dream. What neuroses. Subject and author and plot. Continuous revision – the edit and pulp and rewind. We cut and paste and press ‘new.’ File, document, folder, image: LIFE.
There is story and language and code. Writing and saying and message. Harlequin’s not the first to say “I think by writing” and perhaps he will not be the last. Some perspective invented, some objective fabrication, some construction of a feeling of reflection, recount. Grappling after what is getting lost. A dream that a ruling, an external, can be seen or encountered, manipulated and tested. If an accounting exists, there is material (reality) AGENCY to work WITH, THROUGH and ON.
Harlequin forms words.
Yet there are none that he ‘makes’ – just borrows, revises. Uses, shapes, and arranges. Gives place. Inscribes in some ancient tradition – it’s “writing” – using marking or code in conventions. Absorbing idiosyncracies into generalities. Depending on a community that shares such signs – can lend, agree, and interpret. It’s fragile. Insecure and uncertain. There’s no meaning. Like the earth – writing just IS. To be taken and changed, charged and made and appropriated. Dis-card-ed.
What was a ‘card’ but token carrying message or code? In-formation – letters arranged. Who knew – and why – and how? Doesn’t matter. Undone. Broken and over and through. Electronic currency now – if this you can even decipher (decode).
Letters, stories, and language. Harlequin marks on a page – sets of signals. The cells, the emotions, the organs – signals and signs. Tired and old and afraid – always dying. Since day one, always dying – fearfully. How It Is. He remembers and prays (in a way) – a communication with the dead – mediated – to the Beckett, the Kafka, the Dostoevsky. David Foster Wallace, Hegel and Marx. Maybe Nietzsche, Deleuze or Blanchot. And the ladies: Lispector, Cixous and Dickinson. Doesn’t matter. For Harlequin, all a part of the same realization – it comes, it ages, it goes, and it’s gone. Human living. Human life. Just what is: How It Is.
Labor, relation, and trial. What is being? Labor, relation, and trial.
He succumbs. Is succumbing. Is tearing apart.
A story makes of it what it will.
You can have your knowledge – facts or theories, experiences and concepts – but the stories reason and resemble them. Lend them ambiguity and occasional senses. Possibilities.
Perchance they go together like this. Or like that. Or another way. Stories. Sanity. Something.
Something becoming – a linked set of symbols in an ecological order. Stories try experience on for fittings. Until it fits. Until it tatters, or is otherwise overused or outgrown.
Becomings and undoings. Compositions and deletes. All the edits (on the fly). Survival.
And bowls of cereal are not allowed.
“machines alone have realized that sleep is no longer permitted”
– W. G. Sebald –
I haven’t slept.
Sometimes, in a dream, it feels like “it occurs to me.”
Trying to create a lesson plan for graduate students in the College of Education, I want to tell them why internet research / database searching / source evaluation seems so complex. I take a hammer, a wrench, a tomahawk. I bring a plow, a harness, a sewing machine. I show a steam engine, a telegraph. I think about them.
Hold them. Turn them about. Consider what you can do with them (if you know how). Surmise what you can do with them (if you don’t know how). Lots of things.
Humans devise stuff in concord with their environment. Stones to stumble on, to throw, to hunt with, to pound. Sticks to slap, clack, burn, poke. Maybe carve. Maybe paint. Maybe write.
What we devise have certain rules, operations, constraints. Remember the first time you wielded a hammer? Learned to turn a doorknob? Fitted a screwdriver to screw?
There’s a learning curve. Adaptation. Practice. Change.
Try archery. A piano. Knit something.
Simple tools. Fire. Rock. Wood.
Mud. Sand. Clay.
So we figure out things that might be done with them. Things to do, make, say, or think. Certain things are more efficient. Certain ways. Certain hows.
We practice and experiment. Devise.
I am 45. Until I was in my teens, my fingers had not touched a lettered keyboard. In high school I had a class for typing (on manual typewriters). As a pianist I excelled. My homework depended on the legibility of my handwriting through graduate school. By 1993 there were computers in the “typing room.”
You don’t have to know how to write now.
I watch the pencil or pen move along lined paper. What do I have to know in order to do this? How can I make the marks turn out like this? Dexterity, control, care, effort.
Alphabetic literacy, knowledge, craft, semantics, semiotics, grammar and so forth…
Turn the hammer in your hand. Tighten the wrench. Use a pushpin. Take up a fork. Operate a knife with steak. Raise the glass.
“Tools,” perhaps, technologies – technics and techniques – with their own sets of rules for our cognizant bodies.
Pull out your phone. A swipe, some taps, a certain way of holding. Understanding icons, visual literacies, kinetic craft, operational knowledge. Know-how. Complex. Astounding. Dexterous. Intelligent. Think of all the things you need to know to work that small device.
And then adapt.
Diagram the innards of a personal computer, a Smartphone, a tablet, a scanner. Imagine the adaptation required to operate that machine.
Think networked information. Big Data. If all our images, texts, conversations, correspondences, budgets, ledgers, laws, entertainments, plans, designs, models, experiments, applications, programs, art…(and so on) are DIGITAL / digitized… then algorithm’d and interfaced, softwared and connected… NONE OF US KNOW WHAT IS THERE.
The machines to which we dump, turn-over, DEVISE, inform, enTRUST – the artifacts of our living – because it is too much – no ONE (person or institution) catalogs, lists, calculates, organizes, arranges, assigns – THE MACHINES MUST DO IT BECAUSE OF THE SCALE and PACE…
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IS THERE
Stacked algorithms and protocols select relevancy and value; similarity and related; significance and import; primacy and rank. We operate. And barely. How do we guess the coding of its imputing? How do we wrangle the keywords? Information coming from anywhere at anytime into any port…what are the techniques, dexterity, knowledge, grammars, semantics, decoding, crafts – analytics?? – (at least as complex as the machine we diagrammed – times powers of 10 for all the machines involved!!) in order to locate our NEED; QUALITY; ESSENTIAL…?
In other words – we turn over. We devise these concords of things – and revise ourselves according to them.
You’re guess may be as good as mine. What is in there, where it is, and how to access it. We use a Smartphone for many more things (at once) than a hammer or pen – while we and it are being used by systems larger than any of us altogether.
Systems of devised systems – we have no hope of controlling. NONE of us. Nor all of us. We are entangled: mutually dependent – and subordinate. We DON’T KNOW. We DON’T KNOW. We don’t know. We’re IN the weather completely.
This is rough, when you also have a propensity, passion, or interest to know. Subordinating oneself to a system is hard with a developed desire for autonomy, freedom, liberty. As far as I know, at the mercy of was not a Sapient evolutionary goal. Yet here we are.
How shall we adapt to these devices?
How shall we then live?
Someone is writing.
Writing a long story never told. Never entire, always undone, elaborate and fabricated, once begun.
Tubes, nerves, roots and vessels. Pathways.
Encounters, experiences, events. Relations.
Language is part of it. Emotion. Thought. A strange logic (situational ordering, a kind of management of complexity, sometimes called ‘chaos’).
A rhizome, a network, a knot.
There are inputs and outputs, sources/emissions, but never clean, nary discreet.
Recursive, redundant, asymmetrically reciprocal. Untold and untellable, it’s writing, written, writing on…
Over, through, attempting…beyond, become, a traversing or explore. An assay. Interactive. Emerging. To eventuate.
Someone is writing for something to happen. To participate in occurrence, to entangle in becoming. To begin, continue, hoping toward an unknowable end. Writing.
Like loving, eating, dreaming, or survival – one of many ways.
Laughing, weeping, inventing, desiring,