Jesse’s working up something, so is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded.
There was plenty of talk – banter, chatter, fulminations, really – to the contrary, to the effect that the ‘working up’ had ceased, had dwindled, long since dissipated or been simply forgotten…not so. Now I’ve heard from Jon and Jesse, piecemeal though it be, and my own ‘working-on’ (or UNWORKING, as MB always referred to it) is near to its inception.
Something is going to emerge. Jon repeats and repeats that “Someone is going to come” and Jesse appears to have passed beyond the silence once begun, through all his notes of suicide, toward fire and conflagration and some bewildered youthfulness. Nohow On become a MUST. And all of it inconclusive, i.e. not concluded.
I work in, on, up, and ever forward, toward – ‘toward the what?’ Jon keeps asking while Jesse scrawls on napkins – figures like cartoons, clowns and foxes, masters, slaves, and mysteries – our locations go unmarked, our whereabouts unknown. This is How It Is, according to Beckett and MB. FK in the burrow. Plato in a cave. JD taking apart each domicile, meticulously.
We are looking for a place to work at our unworking, the time and space to be for what is not. Beckett named it The Unnameable.
I took to the books and letters, while apparently the others wrote, made messages and codes, secreted the symbols into texts and silences, plays and fictions full of pause. GWFH, another spell of YHWH, foretold this long ago: “the ends are reached and reached beyond, folding under, folding through, reached again, again, and…”
For years now Jon is melancholy and therefore quite abbreviated, unable to go on, full of stutters, repetitions, and always the questions, questioning, questing, the undone. Jesse through his trials and papered rooms, sometimes near and sometimes foreign, never-know, never-mind, never-where, scraping geography and clouds in search of where No Where and Now Here meet. I’ve thus far been unable to locate him. As for Ivan, Ivan and Enrique both stopped working after the library of loss – assembling detectives, interviewing the dumb and victimized, missals here and there, mostly filled of snow and jungle.
I think: crows spread across the overcast, charred ash sprinkling fields, nothing rooted, nothing grown.
The unworking. Almost a throw of the dice. Half of each sentence erased. The subtle coterie of literate mathematicians. Reports from elsewhere. WG’s layered travelogue… in search of… The work of unworking goes on.
“Splitting on difference,” he said, the passage from mayhem to insight – WG described as “Vertigo,” the verge, the swerve, the swoon. You reach an edge or limit, what cannot be undone, begin unworking. Begin unworking there.
At the grave “I can’t go on. I must go on. I’ll go on,” Beckett decries. It’s not at understanding – “splitting on difference” – but in the going-on, turning over/under, inexhaustibly or ad infinitum – convergences coming undone.
From JD Jesse gets a Post Carte, leaves it somewhere in the margins, but we know. We know we have heard, even if we can’t re-member. All variations of death, Jon thinks, Jon writes, Jon says…assembling the book of questions…the interior distance of this fierce and beautiful world filled with women, fire, and dangerous things…keeping MB in infinite conversation.
Some things don’t make sense yet seem imperative. As if there were a realm of the unsayable, a set of stanzas wedding language and death – signifying nothing – that is to say, a world of unspeakable silence that works like clamor.
Exhausting voice and nothing more. The trouble with pleasure, with suffer, with become. None of us trust ideas and yet we generate and respond.
“He was found lying on the ground. No one had missed him. No one was looking for him… An old woman found him.” (Beckett). We somehow set out to search. “That seems to hang together.” Jon, Jesse, WG, myself, scouring the globe for more – who, what…- “But finally I asked if I knew exactly what the man – what exactly was required of the man, what it was he could or could not say. No, was the answer, after some little hesitation, no, I did not know…” and so we keep on.
“A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.” JD post carte. Beckett’s own death, still. GWFH, WG, FK and MB’s left messages, notes, recordings. “Only a small part of what is said can be verified”…if any. We are left, bereft, full of fragments, thoughts concluded, forgotten, ignored, but still unworking – in journeys, in dramas, in fire. Hanging at the limits of ropes. To strangle or drop, and what then? What next? Splitting on difference. It comes apart, what holds together. No one knows. Nowhere, now here, very difficult to say. Meticulous dismantling, decode – recode – Unicode – uncode.
…Jesse’s working up something, as is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded. Piecemeal as it may be, we are all working on (or UNWORKING, as MB liked to refer to it)…and nearing some inception.
“To bring a work to ‘a conclusion,’ as Picasso said, is like putting an end to a bull – to kill it.”
from the diaries…
Woke this morning with a particular feeling. I’ve never been one to believe people could name their emotions or feelings. The best we can say are parts.
Words like a parts catalog: indicating pieces and components, but never the working, not the operative whole. Machines are full of mystery. What’s hidden.
They say you cannot know. As you age. Cannot know if it’s the end, exactly. Perhaps they’re right – I’ve surely been surprised in middle age, believing everything was lost, doomed, downhill and erosive, some slow and steady depleting – and then WOW! Who could have known or imagined! This luck, this place, this woman or experience! Perhaps. Perhaps. But maybe we do. Maybe we really know, once twilight settles. I’ve never trusted “them” – the “experts,” the “scholars” and “scientists,” “politicians” or “leaders” or “doctors,” the “speakers for” and “authorities”…i.e. privileged observers (an illusion or delusion or both – no one ever gets to be ‘outside’ existence, any more than any other).
What with Laramie gone, and a birthday round the corner, and language just a parts catalog – my experience.
I woke with a particular feeling. That things were near their ends. That I am nearing ends. Work, love, breathing, will. That the stories I’m involved with are dwindling in pages, thin and wearing out. These ‘particular feelings,’ “somehow we just know,” kinds of things: lay down, close your eyes, cross your hands over your chest and hope things are in order. Or not. Depends on inclination and values, I suppose. What one cares about, or for. Perhaps. “They” say you cannot know.
I’ve been surprised. Even wildly. Much I’ve never been able to believe and yet it seems: my children – engendered by me and of such promise; this beautiful woman that loves me; that I’m still alive. One never knows (is what they say). So who knows what? And how do “they” know that?
I think I do, what with Laramie gone, and my faulty parts catalog, and this particular way that I feel. I’ve worked too long and too much. Tried too failingly. Never quite trusted or believed. Never found my worth. Maybe now I know. Maybe now I’m certain of something.
The end is coming – for me – always concerned and consternated by beginnings – how to start, where to set out – and now, here (nowhere) the path, it dwindles away. What have I done? What did I mean to? What did I wish? Why didn’t I?
I wanted to write a scholarly work about something that truly obsessed me. Something I’d spent my life searching. Something that likely doesn’t even exist, but no matter – because Scrabble, because poems, because science. Unscramble (by scrambling) the letters – you’ll see: it can almost be said, almost anything – existent or not – almost. Parts constructing strange wholes and plugged in, eventual malfunctions, repairs – and yet “no matter, try again, fail again, fail better” (Sam Beckett – I’ve read and I’ve taught far too long).
And one solid work of fiction and some poems. That’s all. That’s what I wanted to do.
So I studied, and traveled and loved. Raised children, made music, pushed learning and literature publicly, worked and worked, and drank and drank. Took in stragglers and strays, made it work where I could, doubted and doubted, desired. Everything but what I wanted – that’s how you perpetuate desire.
I woke today with a particular feeling, though “they” say you cannot know. Cannot know for certain, that things are yet to surprise you, yet to get better. I will not argue. Perhaps. But what with Laramie gone, and all that’s undone, maybe I know, maybe we do. Maybe we’re aware when our endings are coming. Who could know? Who could tell us?
Marc hasn’t approached such things in a very long time, having left ranches for cities decades ago. He’s never perceived his father this way – a sodden, curled lump, a heavy heap of human – laying not far from a dissolving and evaporating campsite. Still.
Alias ponders “still as stasis or persistence or both/and?” in his notebook in his study. “Most often I use ‘still’ with some indication of both – stubborn, persistent, continual, unmoving – obstacles.”
Son standing over his father. Father, fallen, humped, underfoot of son. A stubborn statue, status, state. Something resilient, resolute, apparently ineradicable and permanent – as far as permanence goes.
“Sons stumped by their fathers. Fathers blocking their sons.” Alias wrote as Lucy re-entered their provisional home (what “home” is not?).
Laramie lay still, sopping, weighing more than any many should, it seemed to Marc. Now fathering the labor of his unfortunate offspring, hovering over it/him like a bent tree, not quite as strong, but still stuck and rooted.
“The child is father to the man…still,” Alias jotted, telling Lucy that he’s stuck in the awful muddling middle of things, still wanting several things to be possible at once, believing they ought appropriately have right to be – including (but not limited to) both of their happinesses and satisfaction… fulfillments… but unable to see quite how, and for some strange reason thinking acutely of Laramie, wondering about him today – where he is and how – and all of their good, promising, talented grown children, and why they all increasingly feel alone, distant, farther from one another with age, in spite or in direct conflict with his feeling of the relative, mandatory, even necessary import and significance of these very few – very few consistent, momentous, continual and crucial relations – one another, their some sort of shared offspring or circumstanced charges, numbered friends, one another… handful of humans they ‘trust’ ‘still’ – and the vagaried ambiguity of all of these terms.
Marc stares: his father: a persistent stasis: there, still. His mother. What now? Himself? His wife, sister, the children? And there… here… Laramie Paul Backstagger… still. Present. Here. Present. Still.
Lucy, in annoyed concern – Alias inebriated, anxious, composing, fantastical, undone – suggests they simply call Anna or Marc, Maribel or Laramie his own self, and check in if he’s so concerned, so (“apparently”) troubled and unsettled about them. But Alias, of course, of matter-of-course, of persistent stubborn stasis, replies, sighing: “Whatever. I’m overwhelmed. Over-reacting, under-developed, undone… Forget about it. Sorry. How was your walk – your outsiding?”
Marc prods the body with his boot. His father weighs too much. Too heavy. Too absent. Too still. Sensei had startled his mother Maribel, returning to the ranch stables alone. Who startled his sister Anna, startling Marc via telephone, still. And now here, miles from anywhere, hating, prodding, regretting, wishing this sodden, sullen lump of heavy matter wasn’t his lifeless father, Laramie, his mother’s errant husband, his sister’s rugged hero, the persistent stasis of his dad.
Tension reigns, still. Vitality. Forces working upon and with forces. Matter and space and energy and time, perhaps. At the very least a conflicted Alias in tangled tango with his beloved antagonist Lucy, unaware, intuitive, confused and undone, while Marc is shoving his inert father, Maribel quivers, Anna waits, and Lucy huffs down the hall. Life keeps pressing on and stopping, still.
At the base of them, miles and miles into Montana, lay Laramie. Laramie’s horse Sensei is uncertain what to do. A storm is rolling in.
Lucy knocks at Alias’ door. “Going for a walk,” she says, “you okay? Need anything?” Alias ponders. “I’ll be taking the dog,” she adds to the nerve-troubled silence. “You’re welcome to join.”
The fierce splittage that occurs. Rife.
I always want to go, and madly. Tromp nature, move our bodies in time, together. Hear you, explore, see the muscles work your thighs, your calves, their clench and stretch. Peer at what your eyes respond to, share what registers in your ears. Be privy to what physicality, adventure, novelty and motion unwind and unravel in you. Want you as much as myself. Want to touch and observe, share and protect you. Crave you.
I need to stay with these thoughts, stick at these questions, interrogate myself, my loneliness, my ecstasy, my want. I am remiss, longing, wishing. Forever turning aside for another (spouse, friend, vocation, pet, children) – NO! – I must stay here with myself, plumb some illusory depth, a hell, potential potency. Must keep scribbling, keep ‘taking up and reading,’ until the moment occurs that seems revelatory, meaningful, significant.
YES / NO
Silence. She goes.
And Laramie’s lain still, a long while.
Sensei turns and trots, after houghing along his body.
Lucy goes. Exchanging kisses and assurances, both of them wishing, both of them aware, both of them happy and sad.
Alias moves to the piano.
Wanting to extrapolate a sense – but there are far too many senses and sensings. Children: infants to adults, jettisoned and on. Sensual aches and lustings – the million maneuvers to orgasm at every angle and scale. Big Pictures and Miniscule Mundane all wrapped up. A blooming iris. Pregnant decisions. Salivation for vodka, for book, for solitude and quiet. Augmented chords, then rolled, then extended, then simply a single note. Promised to language, yet full of sound and fury.
He plays, he drinks, he writes, he doubts, he fears, he wishes.
As if it were imperative.
As if fierce splittings of rationality or cognition and confused whelmings of senses and emotions were condemned toward disruption. As if it were unknowable. Could not be known. Could not be said (or written). Could not be true.
Human axis. Axis of being. Overloaded and irreducible.
A swoon, a swarm, an agony and ecstasy. A finite loop and laugh. A tangle.
Alias loves and longs his Lucy, Laramie, children and books. Alias loves and longs a self that makes sense. He loves and loathes that it does not.
Lucy goes. Dog in tow. At the mercy of externals. The risk of world and other. She heads to the Outside.
Alias turns in.
Laramie’s turned in. On himself. On the world. On ‘in.’ Plumbing the depths. A hell. Of ending. Of being. Of moments and instances.
Sensei breaks to a gallop.
There are the mountains. Fierce splittings. Here we go. Everyone at the mercy of. Inside/outside. Too many tenses and senses. Everyone and the mountains, or for some it might be sea. Or both, or any. What happens there.
Lucy in woods with dog. Alias at desk in plains. Laramie lying at the foot of the mountains, still. And everyone else at their everywhere.
“Just find a way through to an end,” Laramie thinks, fallen there, and hurting.
“the void is waiting for vocabulary,” Alias reads, and ponders alone what the void might be comprised of. “Perhaps the void is composed of perhapses,” he writes, “combined with some organization of relations we are incapable of imagining, cannot begin to fathom. Awaiting and constraining possibilities, likelihoods and unforeseens in a kind of complex and chaotic equation or balance.” Irreducible, inexhaustible, and unsayable, he marks on the wall-sized whiteboard in his office.
“If I figure how to end…make it to an end,” Laramie whispers, hoarsely, internally, excruciatingly, silently. He cannot sense his horse, nor smell the fire. It will begin to rain.
“Perhaps,” Alias cursives at his desk, dire, lonely, remiss. “Perhaps each motion, feeling, thought…perhaps the shaping of an ‘a’ instead of an ‘I,’ perhaps this particular curve or flutter of line, this pen rather than another, the way it sits in my hand, perhaps the letter-to-word conjured depends on so much more than I can conceive or dream: smoke rising to atmosphere in some African desert; a precise selection of neurons inhibited and allowed in my body; the varying flow of blood and calculus of cells active in my thighs, my ankles; the trajectory of wind – its velocity. Perhaps what registered itself in my synapses and muscles 17 years ago is playing out in curves versus straight; what she said; or his coughs in the night. The amount and location of sperm; exact army and height of each dandelion stem; the president’s breath; engine ignition in China; the current temperature of Jupiter. Perhaps.”
Laramie works to focus on his breathing, attempts to concentrate his eyes. Seeks localization and diagnostics of injury. His vision is “impaired.” His legs have gone numb. Some liquid burn fires through chest-shoulder-arm. He cannot wriggle his fingers.
“Perhaps every ‘moment’ or movement, influence, decision, activity, intention, expression truly depends on everything else – EVERYTHING…since ANYthing occurred – however that may have become. And the motion of my arm, its difficulties, my emotions and thinkings, what I am able to perceive, just as much participates in the perhapses and perchances as EVERYthing else – directs them accordingly while equally or ratio-reciprocally affected and determined by. Some inexhaustible, irreducible, assemblage – unsayable from my specified and fluctuate limitations – my finitude, but imaginatively infinite (perhaps not) in chances-are,” Alias furiously scribbles.
Attempts to roll over. Effort towards sky. Finds himself clutching left arm, his legs akimbo but working into a ball. Breath harsh and labored. Sight unseen. Somewhere far, separate, Laramie is suffering. Finding a way to an end.
“Perhaps,” Alias drones. “Perhaps deaths and births, seedings and desiccations, galactics and atomic behaviors, cheetah-screech and egg-breaks, politics and business transactions, theories and documents and artifacts, particular weights of the world and all of their unformed-formings gather every instant to become again, particularly. Planar, scalar, interactive and recursive, never still, never stable, not quite patterned – ever potent, ever determined, ever possible, ever realized – EVERYWHERE + HOW + WHY + WHO + WHAT – always possible and continually actual – without possible worlds – just IS. Just IS. Just IS, again.” Alias slumps. Decides again to drink. Looks at porn. Longs for intimacy, for desire – to be craved, wanted and longed-for. To be satisfying, satiating. To be some whacky, untellable, sort of “enough.” Wishes and wishes – 15,000 things.
Nothing now but distress, pang, shards, fire. Something like the neigh or whinny of a horse. A coyote yelp or yip. Dying insects, a squashed ant. Sparks fizzled in mist and wind. Harsh, hard, and consuming. Consumptive. Agony. Laramie unable to locate his body, his voice…himself.