Little Offerings

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…

Journal Entry

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

.

One-Way.  Only.

Irreversible.

It is called.

.

Loss, we name it.

Lossness, lessness:

Simply change.

.

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

.

Continuously undone.

And never remade.

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Brief Entry

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.

 

It declined.

Fragment: Brief Conversation

“How come language (or drinking) makes the pain of language (or drinking, or relationships) go away, recede, soothe…and then becomes language (drinking, relation) and its pain…again?” he asks.

I smoke.  I look at him.  He is examining (with obvious pretend furtivity) my pale, smoothe legs, coming out of my singular light dress.  At my arms, my skin, my cheek and throat, my hair.  Lasciviously thoughtful, he.  Almost curious.  Almost authentic in his desire.

He is trying to daydream.

I am trying to be.

We are drinking now.

I am young, he less so.

Or neither.  We do not know.  Anyone can be so near their end.

So the story goes…

“The world smells good,” he says, and the delectability to the nostrils clearly depended on death: burning wood, smoking pig, a nostalgia of forests…

I knew not what I felt.  Mixtures.  Pleasures and sorrow.  Excitement and fear.  Doubt.  I did not respond, just masked placidly.  Pleasantly, I hoped.  Ambiguous.  And what does he sense?

Meaning

…still seems

to occupy us

as an open question

 

who (yet) knows

what language means?

 

I love/d you.

What more is wanted

ever?

 

With all of its not

mattering, like changing

seasons, world

 

going on.  A hawk

(or owl) shrieks

‘beauty’

 

We ask again

at the canyon,

the peak, the abyss,

 

And I say simply

‘You are beautiful,

Thank you…

 

therefore I love you.’

 

Nothing meaning

but some report,

some expression –

 

Elementary assignment:

This is why I’m alive.

Possessives and plurals,

the mysteries remain.

http://www.schirn-peace.org/en/post/marcus-steinweg-notizen-zur-liebe/

Cabin Reflections

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“Penelope remembers having read that of all the liquids and fluids produced by the human body – sweat, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva – tears are the only one without any trace of DNA… Impossible to identify someone from their tears, we’re all identical when we weep despite the many different reasons we have for weeping, something like that.  Unlike unhappiness, tears don’t set us apart, they make us the same.”

Rodrigo Fresan, “The Invented Part”

Last week I spent with my four offspring at a cabin on the Pikes Peak Massif in Colorado.  Mostly I register grief and loss in my experience of living… but interestingly enough, the first entry of my vacation journal begins with the simple sentence “I’m happy.”  Unqualified, that’s it – myself + my offspring + a rich world reeking of “no service” and untellable beauty… “I’m happy.”  Here are some notes I made throughout the week:

Simple things innerheard during cabin stay:

The stars: “We can’t tell the difference: between light or dark, death or what remains.”

The streams: “Where have we come from, where are we going? / Where we have come from, where we are going.”

Growing things (grass, moss, wildflowers, mushrooms, wild berries, etc…): “Not yet, not yet.  Who knows?”

The rocks, the boulders: “Once upon a time.  Now.”

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The mountain(s): “Maybe.  May Be.”

The cabin:  “Us.  Here.  We.  With.  Hold.”

Phrases of my children:

  • “It’s good to live this way once in awhile.”
  • “Why do we leave here, ever?  I never want to.  What is have to?”
  • “Dad, everything here is your ‘favorite‘.

And me:

  • “Nothing is like this.  Nothing… Belonging, I belong.  Time changes, it’s different here.  As if there isn’t.  THIS PLACE IS ‘BEAUTY’ TO ME.  THIS PLACE IS WORTH MY LIFE.”
  • on climbing: “I’m a dad: we ALL make it, or none of us really do.”
  • on love: “If I say ‘I love you’ – please don’t hear it as worship, as inordinate.  In love we see the ‘too much‘ of the other – that which is always beyond our own reach, the ‘too much’ in each of us we struggle with, and seem to be unable to assimilate or observe in mirrors of our own.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons the conundrum we call ‘love’ exists?

Addresses to my children and loved ones:

  • To T: “Always beware of logic – our fabricated things.  What we may wish toward but doesn’t make matter.”
  • To A: “Recall.  There are differences.  Beware.  There are openings for more life.”
  • To I: “You have it.  You carry your own water.  Your own dreams.  Your own beginnings.”
  • To O: “Heroes also may shrink you, diminish, contain.  You are deeply your own.”
  • To H: “Never mind.  I am not the one who can conquer it in you.  I believe someone will.”
  • To ?: “I love you.  Like literature: the possible of life.  Impossible.”

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Thank you mountains, rocks, growing things, streams….

Any Story

AnyStory

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.

Avoiding frustration.

Urges.

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).

Divert.

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…

Avoid frustration.

Write.

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.

Fear.

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).

Just write.

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…

Write.

I read.

I drink.

It floods.

Another day.

Any story.

Working Around the Void

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve whittled away at my brain toward a poem…  I’m not sure that’s what this is, but it’s fresh effort:

Working Around the Void

How can we have

such clear impressions

of what is not?

 

Absence

Silence

Nothing

 

maybe God,

Santa Claus,

or meaning.

 

Things

lacking evidence,

experience

 

I believe I dream

and vice-versa,

as a doubt-drenched thinker

 

As long as we’re using language

for these –

what is our perception of love?

 

Imagination?

Is it?

Time?

 

Between appear and disappear.

Articulate desire.

 

Learning-With, Working In-Between

I found the following paper when cleaning up our dining room table to prepare for dinner:

Ida_Blog

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”

Lacks.

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…

Without which…nothing?

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…

Buechner_blog

I see nothing

“The sky would have to be inside me for my words to have the brilliance of stars”

– Edmond Jabes, “A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Book”

Dasein means: being held out into the nothing”

– Peter Sloterdijk, “The Art of Philosophy”

“Even when nothing / replaced the gifts, it was a kind of seeing”

– Jack Gilbert, “Collected Poems”

I was driving in the dust of this planet while wondering how I knew the sky was not inside me.

After all, there are theories.

But my words do not have “the brilliance of stars.”

Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber concocted The Enigma of Reason… and I want to say …of Reasons.

For after all.

After all (i.e. “in the beginning”), where we set out from seems to be an enigma of reasons.  The proffering of theories (the art? of fabricating reasons?).  The urgency to describe or define, explicate or explain, ‘make sense’ of things like her glance, or my illness; the weather, or wear (time), something felt or imagined, desired.  Each engendering theories.

We call that engendering the imagination.  Using language and sensing, others and other, an-experience-in-the-world to … give reasons.  And why?

There are theories.

No bottom.

Haven’t we begun everywhere?  With urges and instincts, desire and relation, observation and interpretation, and so on… and yet it’s only ever ‘mine’ or ‘ours,’ – a giving of reasons and investigation that is human – no, not quite.  Not even that.

We incorporate ‘earth’ in it.  And many things nobody owns or created.  Language and sense, and earthy-othery tools: microscopes, telescopes, instruments, numerals, metals and plastics and paper.  Electricities.  Motion.

Anything to wrap ourselves in and around… and give reasons.

That experiencing: when one aches for a knot or a kernel, a key or a gem.

Mine might be the Texts for Nothing.  A nothing I never can reach (and I knew it).  Don’t we all begin once we discover we can’t?  After it’s all already begun?  In the midst of?

Why why?

Mystic-scientists propose an only-what.  Eschew reasons.  The lock of the rational derive.  Sense or no, this is what we observe in conditions.  Phenomenology.  The human (“observer”) limited experiencing.  Only that.  Being-there.

But the tekne collaborates and alters.  There never is only.

Reportage.  Disinterested.  Impersonal.  Facts and accuracies.

A reason:

I pursue nothing because I know I can’t find it.  Will not find it until I am not.

Even then?

So I err at desire.

Like a theory.

A digression.  Transgression.  Omission-emission.

A longing for order?  For sense transcribed into reason?  For nothing to give rise to all and these everythings to foment continuing?

But we know don’t we?  Deeper down, without bottom?  Don’t we know we’re a tiniest book?  Carried in the arm of a world-without-end?  Of further reaches?

No, we don’t.

We don’t know.  We make ‘knowing’ or ‘knowledge’ – a description – a typification (a logic, a rationality, i.e. a reason, a theory).  Floating in infinite perhaps.

They say we share common elements we’ve devised observationally.  So the sky might be inside of me.  But words aren’t stars, are they?  Theories.  Experience.  Ours.

We’ve come to experience not-knowing as a kind of ‘humility’, ‘valor’, and ‘honesty.’  But why?  We don’t know.  If that’s so, we can’t know we don’t know.  And life is a loop of inquiry, perception… that leads to the giving of reasons and the making of sense.  Beginning ourselves from began.

Things ‘ring true,’ resonate, and we follow… on… seeking reasons, making sense (where there is none?).

Posit ‘God.’  Posit ‘Method.’ And we’re caught in the crevice of crafting for reasons.

“Even when nothing / replaced the gifts, it was a kind of seeing.”

My Correspondence with Nothing

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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.

Perhaps Kafka.

To be lonely and to reach out.

A drink then, for interaction.

A scribble on a page.

A smoke for an ‘other.’

Some music.

I read Beckett.

The cat.

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.

Or Hamza.

Hell or Helen or Helene/Helena.

Laurie.

No one knows but the name that works best.  Christy or Christina.  Vernoica/Veronique.

Beatrice.

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:

Dear Hannah:

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.