Marking My Way

What follows is exemplary of my tendency when I open a notebook and begin to write… digression… sigh…

“a man, however intelligent, is no better at maze-running than a rat, unless assisted by notes, whether these are remembered verbally or sketched out in a drawing”

– Michael Polanyi, The Study of Man –

artwork – Pamela Caughey

I am beginning this story with words, for I am writing, and writing has often occurred as the transformation of experience to perceivable mark for communicable purpose: programming code, impressions in sand, lines about the mouth and eye, numbers, letters, notations and visible strokes.

The mark I begin with is “I.”  To imaginative purpose.  Say we could coordinate belief around marks (which “we” already have, or “you” are unable to comprehend, co-perceive or mutually interpret anything of what “I” am scribbling).  Imagine with me that we can: foster markings and gestures, sounds and expressions, that stabilize over time toward agreement…

1, I; 2, we; 3, you; 4, with; 5, world; 6,… and so on… where marks come to re-present a sharing or relation toward – together we assemble at “tree(4)” or “word(4),” at “sign(4)” or “kingdom(7),” at “ours(4)” and “us(2)” and at “we(2)” or whatever(8).  All might be marked other ways, sounded or gestured – a squirrel’s flicking tail, a whale’s sonic wail, bird twitters, rock cracks and colors, cloud movements, sighs.  Images, letters, motions, or sounds.  Impressible, expressible movements.  Relations enacted, touches and probes, effects and affects across spaces and times, this is language in-scribed and con-scribed –communicability – glance of finger or toe or of eye, brush of hair or of death or of light… con-tact.  Tactility, touchability, WITH.

Imaginatively-agreed-illusory and often elusive – “Abstraction (11, or 10+1, or..)” – What-is-not becoming what-is.  “Creation(8 or eight or 11111111…).”  Coordinated occurrence of subjectless objects and objectified subjects and things among things among things “co-existing(10),” – or so “we” mark “it.”

I begin with a mark that is “i” or 1, or the slightest, least notable line.  “iota” in Greek, as Frost deftly inscribes – just a pass, accident, happenstance, hardly constructed and simple – a stick falls from a tree and leaves an “L” or a “Y” in the soil, but an “i”?

A mistake usually, a drip.

So “I” use it to refer to “just 1” = “what-is-not.”  No “one(1)” has yet known only one.  With “one(1)” there is nothing ‘to know’ – to attend to, perceive.  With 1 there is only the one – less than nothing.  1 counts the same in negation.  You have nothing or one, but once perceivable three – the 1, the 0, the difference.

We make marks.

The mark I began with is “I,” just the least, the inception, the start of a “we.”  A cry, a twitch, a tone or effect, a coloration, occurrence.  What’s the difference…

“I” could have made a sound.  Could have poked, puked, stomped, wriggled…simply gestured into wind…

ANYthing, EVERYthing can only happen as more-than-one.  More than meaningless mark (/) or vanishing point, it indicates RELATION.  If 1=nothing, we still get 1 + -1 = 0…all ways at least 3.  And if 1 is alone (“all-one”) there’d be no knowing, telling, perceiving, deciding without at least a “NONE(4, 0)” or “TWO(3, 2)” to proffer recognition – ALWAYS MORE THAN ONE for there “2B.”

I could not propose “I” without other or else (no-thing could be perceived without difference, and difference demands at least two + a relation, [even similarity – which always harbors difference] – therefore 3 at the least for a mark).  If “you” couldn’t tell a difference (perceive or experience something…how would you know some thing is?).  Identi(cal)ty would seem (necessarily) IM-perceptible.

1 NEVER EQUALS 1.  Such is my thesis.  If equality and sameness are possible no one could mark it, perceive it, proclaim it – 1=1 is not perceptible.  For 1(“I”) to be identifiable, not-1(not-I) is required, which demands a 3rd(third) that might distinguish or experience – whether relation-itself 1±1 or Otherness to “tell apart” or cleave.

Identification demands Other.  A mark, even the slenderest, simplest, accidental dash – to be perceptible, to matter – must be different from an other.  Therefore, always 2 have to be for a 1 to be, and for that to be perceptible a third(5, 3) must exist… 1≠1=3, and 1=1=3…

i.e. I begin with “I” to invoke/inscribe MANY.

I am beginning this story with words…

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Signifying Writing – Figure 2

Sign-language

Figure 2

A relief in the unreality.  A kind of re-sign-ation and release…capitulation…to the impossible.

“how we find our way in the unknown by drawing on invisible maps of the invisible and by following…”

(Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal)

Sign-language.  Gesturing.  Ambivalent approximations.

At times unbearable.  At times a satisfaction of “all we have” and the effort of maximizing it.  At times re-solve (for x?).  At times a re-linguishing abandonment:  despair.

I study her, hair splitting and spreading, trailing inky-green over the vein-passages, delicately swollen, along the backs of her hands, superfluous and jewelry-like wrist-bones, concatenation and symphony of muscled, cartilage-limned lineations from thigh to knee-bend to calf, turning into sun-drenched marble of ankle, tendon, toes…painted, dusted, perfection…

The beauty will not hold to term.  Will never be contained.  It was impossible before it began.  Eventuated, erupted, but was not “meant” or realized for any capture.  It’s irreducible and indescribable, and I always already knew that – thus a torment, self-torture, a suicide term-inating – necessary failures I will elect to die trying: inconceivable, yet experienced; an incalculable worthless worth because unshared and uncommon.  Just perception, experience, singular…impossible.  Not factual.  Incommunicable.  HER.

To simply see (receive, perceive, conceive) – non-transferable, i.e. ‘unreal,’ unrepeatable, or ‘not the same’ as that.  Untranslatable.

Yes, it starts to map.  A conjecture of imaginary spaces, places, locations.  Lines drawn wobbly and around, surround, what mystery?  To dialogue and dream – hypothesize, surmise, polygraphy.  I.e. to fail.

Ends in its begins, becoming something ‘else,’ as self might with each other – between showing new unknowns.

Not sure its believed in any more: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

It goes on.

A trace, congesture, autography.

Experience.

Abysmal

A philosophical problem has the form: “I don’t know my way about.”

– Ludwig Wittgenstein –

“The silent spaces between words often speak louder than the words themselves”

-Gunnar Olsson – 

Signifying Writing, Figure 1

Opicinus De Canistris World Map
Figure 1

Opicinus De Canistris World Map

*

The map began as a scribble, a doodle.  Begins as a failure to write, to “compose.”

In lieu of a word there’s a wiggle of pen wandering aimless in search.  Cartography-graphology-psychology – a loitering for logos.

Begins this way – in hope of words, a sort of squiggle.  A body desiring a mind.  To show up, to take over, provoke or convince – to appear, make a meaning, disclose – to figure toward sign.  Some unconcealing.

The signal’s not there, so it moves: the hand, the instrument, the breath and the heart – are they tools?  And for what?  A cartographer’s dream.  Of no training, no knowledge, even reason is lacking.

A pen making marks on a page, mapping none.  Tracing nonsense.  It begins in this way, and it leads, so he hopes (it hopes, is hope, is desire).

The scrawl travels over the page – given borders and boundaries, arbitrary and set – 6”x9” and lined with a soft viscous grey.  He (it) slows down.  Just a hand and an arm and a shoulder – in motion – holding a technical device filled with fluid – black, yes, like bile, but less tacky, diluted – it flows, threading lines – it’s con-fusion – yet taking, biting, inscribed.  Something happens.  Drawings are locked to a medium stock.  Incomprehensibles stained on a page.

It crawls on.

*

This mapping begins in a loss.  He is lost.  It is lost.  Doesn’t “know.”  Just beginning, because – with desire.  It is driven, compelled, WRITER WANTS (for to write) with “nothing to write, and no means to write it” yet constrained to keep writing, to expunge merely SOMEthing, some THING.  Which is NO thing, no THING, but to mark.  It goes on.

Makes a map, a map-ping, tangled series of lines meaning nothing, no THING, but creating TO-WARD.  Ward off absence, off void, ward off death, this is to – .

It (he) is tired.  Is forlorn.  Is an absence and loss, a re-mission, re-cursion, re-morse.  And not even that clear.

Scribbles on.  NOT a map.  NOT directions.  For NO where to go – NOW here, now HERE, no-where.  Which begins all the longing, for “he’s” heard it said, found it written – in signs, in-scribed, sign-i-fied: but NOT HERE.  Not in him or this body.  NOT THIS.  No sense.  Non-sense.  “It’s” not “working.”

Trail dwindles along cross the page.  It’s a map.  Just of being.  NOW here.  Now.  HERE.  Looks like this – some electrocardiomusculoskeletalpsycognilinguadigital-gram.  From this angle, this tool, these techniques.  As a Ouija.  No meaning.  Saussurating.  Arbitrary.  Mediate.  Only markings.

It falters.

And so it begins – as a failure to write – as a scribble – an assay – a tribute to write – that cannot, that will not, that does not…quite occur.

 

Becoming What and Who

I would find it difficult to praise this work enough and urge you to engage it if you share a deep love of creating and participating in literature and works of art.

Toward a Reading of Forms – by Jean Rousset

rousset120

Meaning-Making in Living Systems, or, 15,000 Things

subatomic

is a phrase and a theory I have queried, contemplated, spelunked and pursued for the past few decades of my “living.”  Since (apparently) before I can remember, I’ve been addicted to a kind of figuring-out – some offspring of “understanding,” any concept / idea / or belief-faith – that might elucidate to me my (experienced) compulsion to “meaning” or “significance” – to matter as matter-in-relation.

I’ve encountered many gurus (preachers, priests, philosophers, psychologists, scientists, mathematicians and artists, farmers and engineers, poets = “people”) along the way who have sent, directed, swerved, commanded, troubled, commended, interrogated, suggested and questioned this impulse of mine.  From sarcasm to scholarship I’ve been told I will not find that which I seek.  Or recommended resolutions that don’t withstand my particular scrutiny and skepticism.

It is sunny and light, Spring-y and gentle in Kansas today.  I took my lunch, after a walk, at a table among trees.  Birds were active, dogs ambling by, flowers in bloom, and a breeze.

For the most part I “eat” cause I’ve believed that otherwise I would fail (as a being) and die.  I like to enjoy food, but most often it’s presumed “preparation” falls to me, and therefore becomes a complication of time I would prefer not to.

So I sat and I drank (so much easier).  Water & coffee & other things to my pleasure.  And “pondered,” I guess – what I do, when (apparently) no one requires immediate need of me.

I was alone, in a way.

And thinking of “meaning-making,” and “knowledge,” “belief” and “desire” – human shit.  (It’s what I do – that compulsion).

*** As I was contesting people’s behaviors and language recently in my home, my unanticipated fortune of something like a life-partner offered the response “there are 15,000 things it could be.”  Which struck hold and has become something of a cliché in short order in our home.  Imponderables, indefinables, indescribabilities.  For any action any thing might perform – there are nigh infinite possible “reasons” (most likely irrational) – these courses are taken.  “Personal knowledge” is not something we have.  Systems do what they do – what is done is what’s done – and the likelihood of our assessments being correct is near null.*** [that’s all an aside]

I can be critical.

And quite gracious and kind.

“Depending.”

On what?

15,000 things.

I am rambling.  And have decided to do so.  Readers, you must know, I don’t write because I have something to say.  (15,000 things).  I have drives to express (inexplicably) – and most often what I write is precisely a declaration of what I don’t know.

“The more we know, the more exposed we are to our ignorance, and the more we know to ask”

– Marcelo Gleiser, The Island of Knowledge

Well that’s a positivist view.

When I write, I expose all my ignorance.  Compose hunches and urges, fascinations and fears.  Ache to pull my ineffables toward tongues.  Talking’s the same.  I don’t know what I’m saying – just hoping experience finds text.  Immaterial materializing.  We might get “something to work with.”  I don’t understand any of it.

Sitting then, in the sweet Kansas day, 20/30 years of my life gained a traction.  “Meaning-making,” to make meaning, was obscuring infinite unknowns.  Underlying such a contention – that meaning is made – swum its absence = there’s no meaning “there.”

“Person-hood” aptly decreed – “person” a “hood” that we wear.  “Person-ality” – some ability we possess to appear as in situations.  “Meaning” – a something we might craft to suit our unaccountable occurrences.  I don’t mean anything, significance is made.  If I’m lucky the people around me choose to do so with my existence.  Otherwise it’s matter of course.  We’re Matter…of course.  But who knows?  Also the problem of “knowledge” – the only “knowledge” we have is our own and some idiosyncratic communal bastardization of what our Species has MADE.

Not quite nihilism.  Just meaninglessness.

I like the idea of “meaning-making” – finding it in the relation of atoms, of stars, of humans and beasts.  Of dreams and delusions, of science.  I like “knowledge” – created cultural artifacts and residue, flotsam & jetsam, structures and practical theories.  AND it would seem it obscures what surrounds.  For every academic discipline that drills its way into a world we experience (as humans) and stacks up hypotheses and –pedias…there’s still the wide world there from every other perspective and experience – the ant, paramecium, subatomic particle, sky.  Your spouse or your child, parent or friend, or the foreign, the stranger, the Other, the “them.”

Myopia.  Perception.  The experience of meaning.  Attribution of significance.  What matters in matter to ME.  IF matter – for even matter’s a human contribution to what seems to be.

Perhaps it comes down to particularized –“hoods” and “-abilities” – “each one’s” momentary personhood and personality – whether experience is an occasion to “make meaning” or glide on in its unnecessary meaninglessness.  I don’t know.

What remains is my deranged and crazy compulsion – my “hood” I guess, and ability.

So many words come to mind.

Let Me Get This Out of Your Way

Intriguing stumble-upon.  Clearing an old flash drive for my daughter I ran across this – texts from my first and only public reading – featuring art by George Ferrandi and Laura Barbuto, which occurred in an interactive reading space with many assistants and much assistance a couple years ago.  Seemed like it belonged in this space.

space_ferrandi

  1. Sitting at table amid a narrative hum. No one speaks.

“Getting it Out of the Way: A Response”

(texts by Nathan Filbert; art/images Laura Barbuto/George Ferrandi)

 

Without Criteria: Laramie

Picasso - don quixote

Laramie shoots and kills.  Laramie loves and captures.  Catches and release.

Riding along the ridge, singing, swearing, singing.  This journey’s a long time coming.

The need to get away.  For autonomy.  To be self-called.  To begin after all of this and that.  Recall and resound.  Taking stock.

He’s always been this way – a little undomesticated.  A touch of untamed wild.  Never finding a place.  Never quite belonging.

Boundaries forged by relation and response (-ability) all forwarding to limits, cages, toward constraints or restraint he can not abide.  Each vocation or program, discipline or field, replete with vocabularies and methods, praxis and behaviors misfitting to degrees he finds it hard to accept.  A ‘lone wolf,’ ‘self-made man,’ a patent failure or ‘with no name.’  Renegade?

He rides.  The shuffling flanks feel heavy under him, providing awareness of his own weight.  Considers Alias, and thinks how both do not belong.  How adamant and vehement he himself cries freedom, how Alias skinnies and wriggles past the gates.

How neither could ever be said to have ‘succeeded.’  How both (in his mind) would never have failed.  How neither and both are alike.  Neither and both are so different.  Neither and both alive.

Rides on.  Too old for all this but he’ll camp out tonight.  To prove to himself that he’s old both and wild.  Yet.  That he aches to be tamed and untame.  Yearns to belong, independently.  The want for a self that is selfless.  The urge for a course without banks.

Laramie wants to be world, alive.  Wants to be fertile and virile, viral, untrained.  Wants claimed and confessed-for, wants derided and praised.

“We’re the renegade scholars,” sometimes he would say, “learning the lingo and undoing like acid its heart.”  “We master and tell of its weakness, expert novitiates in all.”  “We unwind and unravel.  Travel and root.  We are rhizome,” he says, “drawn out from anywhere.  We absorb and vituperate, ingest and expel.”

He rides, and he rides, in love with the muscling flanks.  The wind tearing through hair and beard, blistering cheeks, stinging his eyes.  There are tears.  Laramie swallows.  The sorrow and joy are one.  Life and its death copulating…heaving and sweating, oily and dry to the bone.  He is brittle.

Laramie is needing to stop, and he feels it.  His body is singing – pain tells.  Time is ripe.  There’s an end.  It is coming.  Unrolling his pack…here it goes…

Ends – the Means to Get There; or, Laramie says “OFF.”

ON OFF image

I drill. I devour.

Kafka, Blanchot, Derrida, Bartleby.  Pessoa, Nietzsche, Jabes, Beckett.

Into the absence of hope.

Of language.

Of body.

I drill and I devour.

Myself.

Vitality.

Capacity.

I try to think my end(s).

I want to get there.

I would like to make it to the end.

I would like to make the end.

I think.  I serve.  I love.  I ask.

I care.  I touch.  I say.  I listen.

I am not fulfilling.

I am never quite what is wanted.

I have never been “right” for a situation.

I am a person who tries very hard to be what is wanted.

I am a person who tries very hard to offer what is “good”.

How would I know?

– what is wanted?

– what is good?

I do not.

I am incapable.

But I DO know:

I AM NOT THAT.

(do not) BE HERE NOW.

simply : do not.

“I would prefer not to.”

“I will not”

No reason.

No anwer.

We are just humans.

Animals.

Purposeless.

Pointless.

Without reason(s).

Without meaning(s).

Without.

Still we go on

(for now)

Still we keep on

Still

On

On

On

OFF

(he said, said Laramie to Alias. “OFF.”  He said, said Laramie to Alias.  And then he was gone.  Really.  Gone.)

Sometimes it happens this way.

Sometimes.

OFF

Simply, over.

[Often, in my case and experience.  They come, they go.  There is a rush of blood to the brain and the loins.  There is something I assume the others refer to as “hope,” – some reason to live, to go on, to pertain.  Then OFF.  Binary.  Digital.  Technology.  Culture.  Beings-in-relation.  ON/OFF.  Lights.  ON/OFF.  Progress.  ON/OFF.  Will.  ON/OFF.  Love.  ON/OFF.  Value.  ON/OFF.  Need.  ON/OFF.  Mood.  ON/OFF.  Everything binary.  Irrational.  Abstract.  Illogical.  Happenings, events, occurrences.  ON/OFF.  ON/OFF.  Life.  ON/OFF.  Life.  ON/OFF.  Life.  ON/OFF.

Life.

ON/OFF.

We are coming to an end.

I am coming to end.

We each come, to end.

The End.