Even a blank page
can be beautiful, asking:
Who goes there? What? Where?
Even a blank page
can be beautiful, asking:
Who goes there? What? Where?
after Helene Cixous’ First Days of the Year (all quotations from)
“…writing doesn’t know the story…”
– Helene Cixous –
Writing had dissipated, eroded and erasured, “the stream, the slender silent stream with its singing arms,” dried, swallowed, scabbed to dusty ground, hardened wounds, simple soundless scarring – unmarked, unmapped, uninterpreted or deciphered.
“Writing, that link, that growth, that orientation” and mysterious connection in the veins – beneath earth, across times, that leaky, throbbing, flowing, trickling tickle in the fingers of the throat – evaporated to ether.
Space is full of voids again, the entire body is corpse. It was air that was missing – oxygen and hydrogen – a liquid, invisible, fluid force and blazing trail – its quiet tireless effort coursing, a desert without shore.
“’It has been many years now,’… thought the author”…many years of dwindling, echoing thoughts…many years without solution or solvent, no bed, no pull, no sea or slope – an eviscerated wandering lacking movement, without promise or retreat, direction or return, rather something absent, lost, unknown.
Bedrest – a way to heal by falling fallow, running out, caesura and inaction. Some old trace viewed from scale, an only remnant held by wind – a sentenced shrub, a stop of phrase. Riverbedrest and desertduned unwinding – depiction’s dearth, branches clotstopping gravity’s swill or swirl, deadwooded filaments tumbling anywhere the green had been, the iron bled from vein.
“I am going to write,” he had thought at first… but I weigh 47 years and “writing is eternal [knowing] neither weight nor time,” it will not lift and carry me, breezing past as it always has every present unto present – ageless phantom, foreign phrase I am unable to pronounce.
Vanishing link between the bodies, submerged and buried and unspoken – “writing doesn’t know the story” – dumb and blind as memory’s ‘I.’ The lost and forgotten, what will not come to be. “To me, this is a blow, a threat.”
“…the book we do not write. There is a book. That we do not write…” … wordless and disobeyed, unwritten extinction, disordered and undone. Passage and passing of this now here. This book that’s not here. Irrelevant utopia. A desiccated thread, a wilderness with imperceptible end, some perhaps forlorn and far-off song, long since warbled into stillness. I “do not have what it takes to make a book,” long-lost imagining and fabricated dreams, suffered weeping for what-is-not, what-never-was, the known and haunting will-not-be, pains of life assigned to us.
Sightless, flightless bird without brain enough or claw for scribbles, vision canceled by the crossings-out and scratchings, greedy skimming scamper seeking recognizable seeds, some words less foreign or forgotten, that might crack in the craw and cackle a sigh, a chortle, some wheezy whisper… anything other than absence, the starving shame, the empty marrow, acrid arteries, and granulating groin. Wretched rictus claw, blindly scraping at a pen, a page, a flesh-as-grass, a drop of dew, some ancient call –
HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL
…and thank you
It was funny how she, how I, refused, declining enticing invitations of love. Once.
Then again. Or not.
Still, it happens, rejected or otherwise. Naysaying, that is.
Strange relations. Using yes for no, and their returns and variations.
She says no though. I did.
It eventuates, seemingly regardless of our answers.
Check boxes. Lists. Identities. Likert-scales of experiencing.
Mouths inclining. Decline. A trajectory of eyes. Reclining seduction.
I decided not to go along. (Where do we go instead? Who goes? When?). Each denial an assent.
What did the trees refuse? What was the grass fighting, then? The clouds? I watched… she observed birds.
The dancers’ bodies. A dismissal of space. The removal of sound. Absent silences.
Where was she? I?
We said no.
Do words incline or recline for us? What of the ear, the eye?
Still I smelled her.
“I love,” I thought, “I cannot love. I can not.” She declines.
These are the ways of naysaying, all our doubled negatives, equaling… what, exactly?
I love her. I can not. She won’t. Will not. Negativity in a vacuum. Apparatus.
The squirrel upside down, above the lawn, on the long tree limb. What is it denying? And where is the use of speech?
We cried out, decrying. (What could that mean? That seems always in question).
I asked Beckett and Blanchot. They each said that she said “no.”
Apparently, she says “no.” “I’d really like to, but can not, must not,” i.e. “no.”
It rings out, like bells – so radiant, so silent, such dissipation. Such temporal hazard and warning.
Something refuses the air.
I remember. She traces back. What means “over”?
Sound refusing silence. The first. The second. The next.
What is “last”?
She says no.
I recall dreams from time to time. Unable.
Something may have been said.
This Autumn has found very little time for sustained reading and writing, resulting therefore in meager offerings here. But I am finding jottings, thoughts, and notations in scattered journals that have somehow happened anyway. Please accept these little offerings as efforts to remain in dialogue…
Why do we (at least some percentage of us) take such pleasure (or at least seem to relish) in dark and heavy sorrow, like longing? Grief, hopelessness – is it finitude and mortality that cause us to feel so at home in it? Our drowning womb, begun from a watery coffin?
The sweet, rebellious, anarchy of loving, passion, writing, painting, music…sex – whatever it is we do that works our death deeper in us, through ecstatic bursts that we respond to like life.
We all ways dying…from that first launch…that initial spark of convergence – our long elimination.
Praise for the Name what Remains
By the light of the last thing decaying,
Erosion, they call it,
a painful dwindling away
Inception that won’t return
Sand, soil, snow, wind,
some sort of passage
It is called.
Loss, we name it.
If time is an arrow
even in some infinite
loop and swerving traffic
I’m not. Nor are we.
The finite and fragile
Affected in the midst
And never remade.
On my Deathbed
I told language:
Thanks for having my children
The language had names,
As did the children:
They were all words.
I dreamt of a door
The kind without windows
That always stands open.
I remembered some more
So I said the unspoken:
I gave them my want.
to occupy us
as an open question
who (yet) knows
what language means?
I love/d you.
What more is wanted
With all of its not
mattering, like changing
going on. A hawk
(or owl) shrieks
We ask again
at the canyon,
the peak, the abyss,
And I say simply
‘You are beautiful,
therefore I love you.’
but some report,
some expression –
This is why I’m alive.
Possessives and plurals,
the mysteries remain.
“Weren’t there any words that she accepted more willingly? Any that diverged less from what she was thinking?”
-Maurice Blanchot, Awaiting Oblivion–
There have been many hers,
some promise of connectivity
(perhaps promise is too much,
perhaps desiring is more
In other words, and
many of the same
from time to time
the process equals =
it is hers –
my strands cannot reach,
meaning cannot knot,
meeting grown unable…
continuance and breakage
a trailing-off, a dwindling,
leaning toward the open –
deletions and erasures, a clearing of a space.
“perhaps because the first words
say everything / He decided
from there” (Blanchot).
We can know
the first word is
He thinks that
it is hers,
all of them;
In other words
are there any words
that diverge less…
that would not
– each eviscerating concoction…
each undone doing…
Not quite correction,
no improvement, evolution,
no repeat and never same,
He names it “failure”
He says it is the “here”
inducing the there of separation,
of potential gain
and irreparable loss.
“Here” is where it begins
It is hers.
She is never wrong
it is his.
Don’t start reading. The writing always stops when there’s something to read.
There’s always something to read.
Somethings you really, really want to read.
You want, gutturally – in the stomach of your heart – she’s ill, she’s suffering, the phone, to text, just text, “still love you”, like that, she must need care, she must (perhaps not, perhaps she’s been more than cared for, is ecstatically happy, relieved, content, unbothered – it was she who chose to leave, who left, after all).
Text someone else, another, one who maybe wants you to love her, who misses. Avoid frustration.
No. Write it. Write about the urges, the diversion, the avoidance. Read a little first, get a taste, a feel for what letters, what language, might do…
Take a drink (an attempt to frustrate frustration, avoiding satisfactions, short-circuiting risks with another), no texting, follow your fears, note your diversions, attend your avoidance, but act elsewhere. Write.
Could start anywhere, and none a satisfaction, only inscriptions or actions of frustration – to read, to write, to love the one who doesn’t want it, who’s trying to get away (has gotten away, but also wants to leave it behind), to contact one who might or who does want to hear from you (but you don’t, don’t know, just want love, some response) – want to write…
…for ANYone, any SOMEone, perhaps yourself, perhaps all the opportunities lying about you wanting to be read – no, you want to read them…
Avoid frustration, settle for imagined response, even address, to be called – the words in the books rarely fail in calling you, addressing you, which for you feels like response, like being wanted, almost needed, like a text from ANYone, any SOMEone, who invites your love.
Take a drink, frustrate frustration, move into fear, toward satisfaction (or one of its bastard offspring).
Don’t check that phone. Don’t even touch it. Leave it in another room. Turn it off, power it down.
See the words come easy when you simply write them out instead of fracturing them, spreading them thin through a network, splaying them across pages and phones and emails and…
I found the following paper when cleaning up our dining room table to prepare for dinner:
What I learn from the inscriptions of my freshly teenaged/screenaged daughter is this: POWERFUL WRITING CAN BE ABOUT ANYTHING. Which inspires me, and supports a potent hunch I’ve been harboring over recent years and studies: that writing that works on or in us, that gnaws at us, strikes or challenges us, perhaps even changes or ‘enlightens’ us, nourishes or crushes us (as the human species we happen to be – capable of participating, communicating, coordinating variously fabricated scales of signification from the organismal, cell-based to communal (‘personal,’ ‘social,’ ‘political’-based) tends to be concocted up out from textures and materials of authentic self-report and confusion or lack [wonder? – our ability to ‘put-into-question’?].
That we make effort, perhaps progress, are sustained or contained, constrained or extended by core curiosity (query, investigation, inquiry, desire) around perceived conundrums, or LACK.
“This in-between feeling”: self-report (authentic within constrained conventions, perception, culture) + confusion, curiosity, a questioning, experimentation, conundrum = an access to the uncertain, the open, the unknown.
“If it is true that there is (in the Chinese language) a written character that means both ‘man’ and ‘two,’ it is easy to recognize in man he who is always himself and the other, the happy duality of dialogue and the possibility of communication. But it is less easy, more important perhaps, to think ‘man,’ that is to say, also ‘two,’ as separation that lacks unity, the leap from 0 to duality, the 1 thus giving itself as the forbidden, the between-the-two [l’entre-deux]”
– Maurice Blanchot, The Step Not Beyond
Human scientists, when they’re ‘successful,’ or ‘good’ combine observation / passion / desire / perception (experiment + experience) as authentic self-reports in a conventionalized constraint PLUS putting the conundrum or confusion (joining-with beyond-certainty) into question… open… ‘What Is…?’ ‘What If…?’ WHAT MIGHT MY HUNCHES, TROUBLES, EXPERIENCE, SENSES, DESIRES indicate? Anything? No-thing?
The litterateur, artist, therapist, musician – what COM-PELS us (pushes us forward-with-world, with-being) seems to be a kind and variation, repetition and difference of this experience + experiment – attempt at authentic self-report wedded to curiosity/wonder/or the putting-into-question of it.
Some empty set.
So Cantor’s infinity. Einstein’s relativity. Godel and undecidability. Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger’s existentialism or phenomenology, Wittgenstein’s language and forms of life, Beckett, Joyce, Blanchot, Wallace proliferating or desiccating sentences – all seem to be appropriately tied, threaded and submerged in Experience + Lack, Perception + Desire, what we do not, perhaps can not, know.
When William James delivers a cumulative, culminative authentic and conventionalized self-report, a curious address called “Is Life Worth Living?”, or Socrates-Augustine-Leibniz-Nietzsche-Shakespeare-Kierkegaard [substitute names at will – Dante, Darwin, Dostoevsky, Proust, Sartre, Peirce, Melville, Dickens…] inquire “Why is there something rather than nothing?” or “Why is there anything at all?”… Why this!? We’re hovering about a lack – of understanding, apparent meaning, dissatisfaction, perhaps frustration, an emptiness, a hole in things we’re troubling, questioning.
‘Scientists,’ ‘psychologists,’ ‘poets,’ ‘lovers,’ ‘activists,’ ‘parents,’ and ‘priests’ are all pushed forward in these questions… core-conundrums, felt-vacuums, hitches, indications of LACK.
Resulting in remarkable attempts at authentic self-report coupled to curiosity / questioning / doubt.
Inquiry is effort.
In-between: knowing/experiencing and unknowing/confusion – experience and experiment.
“The center…[does] not hold”
We are not-yet-one (self-sufficient) and less-than-two (self and other). Not an observer or experiencer without something observed/experienced. Not a language or emotion without a group or felt-with or in-relation-to. Not a happening without a happening-in, a happening-here, a happening-to. Not a sound without a hearing. A cell without surround, a border and environment. No self without an other and all incomplete, undecidable, in flux and underdetermined.
ALWAYS IN-BETWEEN AND UNCERTAIN
An adolescent is able to capture and confess this…that alone tells me nothing together might do.
No “what if?” without something to work with. No awareness without awareness-of.
And so “I,” her progenitor-father, study NOTHING. The “what if nots?” Incomprehensible, inexistent, perhaps inconceivable questions… indeterminable, indecipherable, perhaps unexperiencable and irrational.
At breakfast we speak of it. Curiously, we authentically self-report our wonder, confusion and conundrums – our LACK – of understanding, of method, of language, of expression, experience… our limitations we might call ‘impossibility…’
That nothing is only possible when nothing is NOT. That if we are able in relation to nothing… ‘we’ can not be there, or ‘be’ at all. Nothing not even itself, not even an absence… to speak or think of it is to rush it away…
These are things I learn from my children – that our questions go unanswered, are (perhaps) unanswerable, that attempting authentic reportage (communicating) experience coupled to wonder, and putting-it-to-question, with humility, then, in doubt… perhaps drives our systems, our logics, our literatures, arts, sciences, and love… LACK that we do not know, can not (perhaps) know, are participants-at-scale – finite and fragile – and have our limits, open and undecided…
Thank you dear children.
I am comforted almost to imagine you might be driven on…
…by your lack, your honest confusion, unsettledness, and authenticity.
Funny enough, the following short piece arrived in my email the same day…
he who already knows cannot go beyond a known horizon
– Georges Bataille, Inner Experience –
In a bout of acute loneliness (a sharp pang of alone signifying a sort of paralysis – some definite inability, however temporary, to start oneself up by or with oneself) I reached out to Hannah.
For some of you, the term Hannah will conjure connotations and resonances, perhaps emotions or concerns, discomforts, even though she does not exist.
Or I loaded the film Satantango by Bela Tarr & Laszlo Krasznahorkai.
A start-up, a stimulus, a searching.
Actually I wrote the name Hannah, or Hollie or Holly or Hallie or Halley or Bela or Chris or Maurice Blanchot.
To be lonely and to reach out.
A drink then, for interaction.
A scribble on a page.
A smoke for an ‘other.’
I read Beckett.
Maria. Edie. Sarago. Marcuse.
To become. To be. To begin.
As if I knew.
In a bout of acute loneliness I penned a letter to Herman Melville.
I wrote words onto a lined page.
I made an ‘other’ and called her, Hannah.
Or Meagan or Meghann, Angie or Angela or Angelo. Gilles or Jill. Jean and Jan and Jen.
I reach out. I almost full fill. Another notebook. A drink. A smoke. A page marked and turned.
I do not know what loneliness is.
Perhaps it is nothing, or nothingness. Perhaps frustrated desire. For – ? What is not (isn’t that what defines desires?). The missing, the absence, the unknown.
I called it Hannah.
Hell or Helen or Helene/Helena.
No one knows but the name that works best. Christy or Christina. Vernoica/Veronique.
I read Jabes.
A drink to an other (to signify might be). A smoke for the presencing. Another word, another name for something. Out there = O ther. Elves of else.
The book’s called Nothing Matters: a book about nothing, because “that nothing becomes the quest, which in turns begets something” (Ornan Rotem).
Dear Herman, Dear Samuel, Dear Franz:
Dear Larry, Dear Jack, Dear Jon:
I do not know what it is to be alone, and my loneliness is painfully acute.
Dear Laura, Dear Sara, Dear Simone:
This is my correspondence with nothing.
hedy bach original photography mixed stories and music
Essays on Creative Nonfiction
Idea Splotches from an (African) American Librarian
Studies in Occult Detective Literature
a home for instrumental and experimental music
Conjured by Sarah Doughty
Montréal * Poésie * Photos
"As for me I reduce everything to a tumult of words" - Clarice Lispector
"As for me I reduce everything to a tumult of words" - Clarice Lispector
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