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“Sometimes God, sometimes nothing”
-Franz Kafka –
“Blank page called a day.
– Dan Beachy-Quick –
The praxis of empty signifiers : words : full of sound and fury.
If you accept the ‘I’, or find a name to call yourself – like using a credit card received in the mail (illusion of invisible funds), what do you charge to it, and does it always end in debt?
Does it make of you a consumer to believe the ‘I’? To use self-reference as a token or coin?
How soon do “my” and “mine” follow after, even though each object, event, or transaction, is clearly only a loan?
What is charged to the ‘I’ must be paid back – to put it in legal or religious terms.
Be careful what you say.
Wittgenstein claimed that we mostly speak without giving full meaning to the terms we use – that we ought remain silent whereof we cannot speak with adequate comprehension. Where we sing beyond our knowing –
very few (if any) utterances comply.
But how learn anything (even the untrue) without not-knowing? Without composing walls to break apart or knock upon, to breach or to climb? Without making it up to unlearn and repent of?
A word changes direction.
It’s happening as I write or think or imagine this. As if.
As if it signified something. I write with sound and fury. Into silence.
It’s what ‘I’ do – so I should do it! (shouldn’t I?!)
I seem to know I’m alive by touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing – things other… feeling, sensing, perceiving… crafting empty signifiers like nostrils, like a tongue, a kind of eyesight and ear, my fingertips. My flesh on loan. To be paid back.
In debt to what then? ‘World’? To sing. To sound. To dance a little. Imagine.
If I am given the sound of leaves as they crisp and color the Autumn breeze, refracturing light; if I can smell the moisting decay (debts repaid by undoing what was charged), if I can gather them with my hands and roil about them with my body, if I can bake the seeds and chew, take them in…
…what does ‘I’ owe?
You sentence me: two I’s. I hear your melodious song. You whisper, close.
I say ‘I love.’ Terms lacking comprehension. Metaphysics. Their meanings beyond knowing. Unlearned. “We” are (whereof we cannot speak).
Charging invisible funds we become responsible for. Obligated.
Swiping our cards for contents.
What do we owe?
What do we know?
What can we?
Each their own set limits. Sometimes raised, sometimes lowered, depending on our fidelity to pay with interest.
We owe. We all of us owe.
Even for our silence.
Even cash-only – that empty signifier – words. Even simply action. ‘I move’ – is a statement on credit, like breath.
Sweet burst of being! To “is.” To “I.” To “we.” All so heavily borrowed, contingently. Imagine.
Imagine what it means. To owe.
Again I break the silence of what I do not know via signs of repentance. These words.
All the silence they require.
“the turned-to-water book…
with all that has room in it,
– Paul Celan –
Decide to write the book-that-turns-to-water, as speech-that-turns-to-air. All that rippling silence, even without language.
Someone asking: what is gesture? movement? expression-in-its-being?
Signification the silent razor.
Someone mentions music, which it claims “represents nothing at all,” (Michel Seuphor) and I doubt that: is there not expression? confession? some sonorous and vibratory friction or exhalation? A “constant inscription of birth in innumerable ways…language is metaphor and metonymy, one cannot avoid it.” (Helene Cixous)
[“where trace becomes existence” (Seuphor)]
I am tracing letters without a model, refusing to hub any wheel…
Out of its mouth: communication sounds. The body moved likewise. Undulant, suggesting. only sounds, no discernible words.
Signification, perception, emotion, feeling, sensation… and then translations: prefrontal cortex: “meaning”?
A blockage. Refusal.
Andre Malraux: “You are human when you can say no.” Remembers Bartleby.
What is called ‘agency’? Only negation?
This is how the story goes?
Prefers not to.
“Pleasures,” “pains.” Pain wakes. Pleasure lull(abie)s?
And when is the “system of nonknowledge” (and unknowing) not “unfinished” (Bataille) posthumous. Post-humorous. Generations.
What was it? Ah, yes, the Book-that-turns-to-water. Speech-to-air bubbles, balloons. Hot air, as they say. They? We.
(someone wrote, silently saying).
“all that has room in it”
Of truth and genesis – constant inscriptions of birth. Unthinking the point and the line.
“Not to worry about the rest of us. Love you.” (someone said).
This is the shaping of chaos, this hell of stories.
Unbearable lightness of being, this breath or stream of life.
Mismaking is an art (or so we hope, we think, desire, demand).
Men and apparitions.
[everything I letter down is plagiarism]
These – the margins of philosophy, a way of life.
Saying I no more. Interior distance.
This is the writing of disaster: the book-that-turns-to-water.
Speaking turned to air.
Philosophy, the posthumous. Dust.
Text (from textare: to weave).
My notes in the fog.
The trouble with pleasure.
Myopia. My opium.
We followed the arc of the diver, losing it in the fog, wishing to make it out clear. I might have said this meant “philosophy.”
“Poetry,” he said, “is utilizing known language to invoke the unknown.” Or certaintly uncertainty, or something like that, which I liked, and indicated by asking what is not uncertain?
Your hands, the music. My desire, a naming for them. I think of your waist as a séance.
What is it to be crippled? I keep trying to use words.
Another asked about the “arc of the diver.” How should I know? All of my sentences should be read as questions. I wonder how divergent questions or commands might be… as statements.
She said, “it falls between. It has to go somewhere.” I guess we pressed it there… were poietic… since we couldn’t find a name. “Dis-appearance” might be one. Like a guess that can’t be falsified.
We all hold a paper marker printed “You are here.” Perhaps paper is too substantial. But it still seems like an invitation I wish we had.
Maybe this is why Albahari inscribed “Words are something else.” We leave it at that. And are flummoxed as to what “that” refers to.
Still we look.
You move like flocks of birds that wheel. I’ve never comprehended “swarm.” Mathematics doesn’t cut it, though it certainly uncertainly tries.
The telephone Pictionary of ear-mouth-brain when we issue sound or gaze. Don’t foibles equal actions? Parts of us experience this as violence, as valence.
Relation as a struggle to balance victimhood and perpetration. Uncertainly.
When or where does this infiltrate unknown?
He went on to say…
I thought (imagined?) your ankles, knees, elbows and knuckles as adroit sworls in swift mountain streams.
So also losing it in the fog, hoping to remember where the trees were. Philosophy. Or was it the forest?
Poetry as ocean surface between “known”/unknown? So wavy, so heaving. No one said that.
The richest respect he gave was his readiness to call me “Nobody.” Or “Anybody.” Carte blanche.
I can hardly perceive what’s in your head now. Potentia? An horizon of waves. A place where words press images press events, the banal. Perhaps. Uncertain sphere of unknowing? They say learning happens there. Like a cell in a culture, animal in terrain. Cacophony of dreams.
Each time we encounter.
Dear Michael, Dear Jonathan, Dear Scott, Dear Laurie, Dear Lydia, Dear Sam; Dear Meghann, Dear Summer, Dear Tyler and Karl; Dear Edie, Dear Sara, Dear Mari; Dear Albert, Dear Paul, Dear Denise; Dear Tristan, Dear Aidan, Dear William; Dear Andy, Dear Pippin, Dear James; Dear Timothy, Dear Jada, Dear all of you who save my life from time to time, by being:
Perhaps I should not own a phone. It’s Short Message Service, in my employ, allows a nearly ubiquitous, immediate reach of the text, from my thumbs.
Thank you for telling me about the exhibition, I have the retrospective tome near me even now, attempting to go in and near the two-dimensional images on paper. It is not the same as being present to the sculptures and paintings, their ambience. But now I know I could not move around them, nor touch them, I’d have only to use my eyes and very little of my body.
This obsession with connection. Once I would have had to go to work unlinked to any of you for hours at a time. Once my going home would mean your absence unless we arranged for sharing space and time. Now I reach, I report, I ask and beg, and enter your lives like someone shoving a newspaper, pamphlet or flyer into your hands at will – without contact – propaganda blaring from speakerless speakers.
Your mails and email show deference and thought. I am happy to have your works near at hand to consult and resort to time and again. I see the care in the hand-writing, the pacing of thoughts, the reasoning reflection, the sense of your audience. They lie about me on the floor, I can feel them, turn them, taste them if I wish.
Your phone makes a hum or a buzz. An ejaculatory missive from Filbert again. He’s lonely, he’s excited, he’s drunk. He wants to share. He needs to share. He needs communique. He wants connection. He is not thinking of us, he suffers the duress of himself. He spouts, he shouts, he slurs. He insists he needs solitude and rest, needs quiet, less public. At any hour, at all hours, these textual packets flow.
Perhaps I should not own a phone.
Where do the gaps that make the heart grow fonder bloom? What is banal and what evental?
Thank you for your poem. I will read it again and again. Thank you for that clip of music, I repeat it throughout the days, when the mood demands an answer. Thank you for your books, your artifacts, your gardens, your hands. Thank you for your eye-contact (those of you I’ve sat or walked, camped or climbed with). Thank you for the melodies of your particular voices. Thank you for your hugs, your nourishing, your care. Your listening.
I do remember the ground there, how it fell away desperately or rose violently into sky. What the birds did. Where the fire flowed. Yes, the leaves. Yes, the sleeping bags. Here’s to the unknown trails, the stumbling, to whatever’s discovered.
I am sorry I flood your phones with less than thoughtful driveling – explosions of fear, anxiety, want. Am I alone? Am I alone? Do I matter? Does anyone want my voice? Am I also missed? But also love. Yes, sometimes I merely wish to tell you the difference you make to being alive, that I feel you out there, somewhere…
Perhaps I should not own a phone.
I do not doubt that we are all capable of learning to freeze. Or starve to death, for that matter. Death will not be a stranger for any, for long.
There are reasons we are constituted in uncertainty.
We are able to learn.
It’s why I told her how much I trusted her. To change. And therefore never knew anything, asking so many questions, again and then again, about plans. Who knew when? or then? or now? I said. Things fluctuate as they die.
Or I never knew. Having so little to do with facts or truth, beliefs or trust. IS is always something else. Or here is always different. NOW has never been, in other words. Even if the words are the same.
And. So. On.
There is music. And recognition – recognizability – (memory?) – a passion for pattern, a shine to similar, a longing for location, locatability. For what it’s worth – a pronounced inaccuracy and pro-found nostalgia. As the ‘similar’ is founded on what’s been experienced before (pro-found), and at least less than (or more?) than present. Pre-sent? NOW was given / sent before? I doubt that… but feel wary that that’s all we’ll ever know, never quite catching up to being.
In another sense: the inherent lag of perception. How old (again, pre-supposedly) are the stars we ‘see’? Or the squirrel on yonder branch; your eyes across the table; our held hands… by the time they register?
What happens, “now”? And why are we occupied with what we call “next” when we can’t even exist at once’s occurring? Seeking a head start? A virtual or imagined pre-sent?
Yes I heard what you said…after you’d said it.
There’s our “now.”
The cut from stepping on glass… and then the pain… later.
The bite of food, licks of flesh, kisses… and then the tasting.
The breeze and then the leaf, light and then its outline. Mostly shadow.
“Hello,” I reply in turn, but your head already bowed and path resumed, on the far sidewalk.
I fall behind.
Suppose this is why, in conversation, ever losing our way in delay, we ask “where were we?” rather than “where are we?” What is it we wish to know? Where do we hope to be with one another?
As I was saying – with requisite gap between whatever may have been transpiring in my ‘mind’ (or whereverywhere thinking occurs) and the sludgy musculature, instruments, and carefully crafted formulation of alphabetic symbols to display attempts of communication or composures…
…now I’ve forgotten…
Someday maybe, someone will say of me that I “tore up language,” made it useless.
Maybe, someday, someone will “feel” that. That I destroyed something precious. Something necessary. Like oxygen, or water: something we could not live without. And I ruined it. Like meaning.
That would be something. Something I could do, with nothing.
Simple undoing. To sequester and burn. Try or experiment. Atomic bombing atoms. Untangle into knots – vacuum emptiness, so to (un)speak. Rather ask than say. Rather ponder or wonder than postulate or state. To query, not question. Change, not challenge.
Disorder and dismember as an alternative to reordering and remembering. Dissolute versus dissolve. “Me.”
How significant that would be! How real and present I might become! How impossible to ignore! Then ‘I’ might come, be-come, cum-cum… be undone, finally.
De-ranger opposing A-rRanger. The chaos, disturbance, tremor and volatility… the tension pulling on the only bottom we can conceive… the bottomless. Topless. Beautiful that way. Exposed. Denuded. Open. Available. A fresh take. Lake. Like. Lack. Unknowable. Perhaps deep or infinite. Perhaps uncontained.
Let’s say “language.” Let’s say molecules, atoms, cells. Let’s say “space” or “time.” Let’s say “let us say.” (i.e. let’s assume something).
Like hallucinogenetic drugs without purpose. Instrumentalization. Meaning. Like feeling too cold or too warm. Like grief or ecstasy – any of these experiences we don’t understand.
Disjunctive dysfunction. The uncanny. Morphology. K would call it (maybe) “infinite possibilities of infinities without numeration – perhaps most of which are empty” – and how would we know (or be able to know) what that means? Like this here = that.
Suppose you could “see” it (imagine – image-in) – I use language. I’d use language. I would. To “see” it. To image-in, to imagine the impossible…compossible.
To love. To be. To live. To try.
Apparently (according to K) that doesn’t “do” anything – doesn’t instrumentalize or operationalize the unknown potential, even though I compare it with sound or dance or computers or nuclear war – as physical.
Whatever. (Exactly!). The vague potential of supposed infinite possibilities we cannot possibly comprehend, uncover, dis-cover, realize (as far as we know, at our scale of experiencing) – but how is it not part of these possibilities? Actualized, instrumented (pen / paper / sign), operated-in or upon or with or for…
Here is your possible result: an 100th Monkey.
Water moved all over me – a bath, a shower, the rain… I broke my skin stumbling on a curb, and bled… a knife, a table… Ha! I have a body. Yes, there it is. Maybe I’ll make love – what will be discovered then? Yes, “we.” I have a porous body.
Another reason writing is an instrumentalized “reason.” Eat this. Peace among worlds. Going on a manhunt for a woman. A particular ‘one.’ Watch me (if you want).
I can pull at the hair on my face. I just gathered my child in an embrace (a ‘hug’ we called it). Ha! I have a body, it is porous. Operationalized by “desire” (we call it).
Part II: Language (we call it).
Floor (feet feel). Hair (hands hold, harry, hank). Skin (sentences slit, suckle, sense, susurrate, sing). Grass (gander, gaze, grab, grackle). Oh the things you can do! Meaningless, morbid possibilities.
To prove – ? What? – “I” hear? “I” touch? “I” see? Taste? Feel? Encounter? Interrupt? Intrude? Act with and upon? To what purpose?
Proof of possibility? Infinite (unknown) potentials? What do “I,” am “I,” wanting?
“Desire” I wrote (instrumentalized) earlier. Ha. A word. An action. [I have a porous body]. “I” (what I call) “love.”
In other words, this was the day K hobbled away. You wouldn’t understand. [meanings].
I’ve written other words, even what might be called “assemblages” (markings in accord with other ‘possibilities’…infinitely (?) variable).
In other words… the spread of the tree. This one sends its branches this way into the world… (porous)… this one yearns vertically… these at certain angles… sentences… reactions…
I am thankful for Kansas… for sex… for her… for elsewhere…
For Pakistan. Where she first appeared… from California… I “love.”
It’s, she’s, notable. Noteworthy. I mark them.
The refrain: I love. I have loved. I will. [“desire”]
“I” say “yes”
Yes, M. Yes D. Yes A, T, H, H, J, M, T, J, M, J, S, R, R, R… yes almost anyone almost anywhere… yes.
Let us try this out: language. Touch. “Yesterday.”
And something becomes. The unknown (unknkowable?) – K’s infinities paralleled and interwoven. What is liminal.
The liquid between every book on my shelves, every line, the air and its waves, the light and hard matter. [porous].
G, D, K, M, Lispector… what do we see? Le spectre. The specter. What we see. What can (not) be seen.
The visible and the touchable – “the Prose of this World.”
Trees sprout branches slantwise.
And there… the name “Steiner.” A Viking. A Spartan. A Cherokee. And there is “rain” (we call it). And I: love. And that can be its own end. The German. The Thai. The Nubian. Each native as The World Goes On in The Physics of Sorrow… selected, selected, selected…
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.