I am not certain why stories sicken me so. By “sicken” perhaps I mean something closer to depletion or boredom, gluttedness or exhaustion. By stories I mean shaped texts of language – narrative fictions, philosophical arguments, journals and declarations and ads.
“I don’t know why I told this story. I could just as well have told another. Perhaps some other time I’ll be able to tell another. Living souls, you will see how alike they are.”
– Samuel Beckett, The Expelled
It has something to do with that. My own writings sicken me faster than others, but all writings, once entangled in plots, developing characters, or pursuing a narrative…tend me toward disgust.
The motion of “progress,” falsity of construction, illusion of meaning begins to fray as language gets “handled” or forced into order. The squeezing and pressure and molding of shaped texts, especially as they develop into sections, seem bound to conform to the size of the creator. Many texts start out wildly, with chaotic promise, almost infinite exploding potentials – but threads develop, and lines, sentences form, and shapes, causes and results, actions and repercussions, and ever so surely the mass is twisted to the size of a snake. And then I’m tired, exhausted by “how alike they are.” We are. It is.
Language imploding and exploding. This is what I want. Language available like elements. Language operative in a chaotic surround, like experiencing. Language that doesn’t know next. Language becoming, not necessarily or even especially something – just becoming within/without human.
So I read words, less to learn or be entertained, less to follow or empathize, less to argue or understand, and more to exist in a sea of potential communication and commerce, to respond, to be open and closed by each term and their relations, to go on.
As if language were oxygen, blood, water. As if language were soil. As if language were all these mystifying, crazy, strange, different and unknown others surrounding us everywhere. As if language were environment. Context. Medium. Not tool. Not machinic. Not discipline. Not function. Not at our service or in our control.
We know that it’s not. It does indeed possess others – carries and transfers multitudes – times, cultures, histories, humans, vagaries of meanings. It is untamed and unpredictable, available and unsolvable, like ourselves. But we often use it for us rather than in or with us. We often torment it into cages and patterns, (I’m doing it now) – forced representation, desiccated potentials – marks of expression or intention or persuasion or telling.
I declare. I unravel. I investigate. I express. I guess. I wonder. I commit a sound to form. It leads. I resist. I say. I listen. It leads (each of us in particular ways). I resist. I ponder. It takes shape. Incites. I want. I resist. I query.
Doing and undoing language becomes the only way to use it and avoid strangling it down to my size. Persisting and resisting, experimenting and erasing, canceling / canceling-out, backwards, forwards, at the angular. Listening to others. Throwing in, throwing away. Desist. Insist. Consist. And delete. Chaos and pattern. Detangle, knot up. Fracture. Fragment. Avoid. A void. Void and null and emergent. Perhaps. Perhaps. The attempt to leave open. It suffers to form.