So we persisted, Jon, Jesse, and I, and the deceased Beckett, with perhaps thousands of others, unbeknownst any to each around some mythical innermost.
“Fail better.” The worst times are the ones in which one simply wants to quit failing altogether. Unfortunately (literally) that necessarily entails a kind of “end of the world as one ‘knows’ [perceives, participates, experiences, or imagines] it” – either suicide, tragedy, ‘terminal’ illness – death of some sort. Maybe silence, but that’s not certain.
The game table is always already laid, you’re always simply ‘entering’ it (LW points out this fallacy in his collections of numbered critiques of anything anyone writes or says or claims) actually (as far as we know) always already there (where you ‘find’ – what?!? – your ‘self’ – what?!?) and (again, perhaps, literally, unfortunately – or at the very least extremely limitedly) you can only occupy one position at the table (or wherever the action happens to be) at a time, that, unfortunately, always involves the very delimited…well, YOU. These are the arrangements as they transpire.
Language can (and does), we surmised, go anywhere. I try to record, invent, notate, mark, initiate. It all seems unnameable. Or of far too many names, references, usages, subtexts and connotations, inferences and denotations, already implemented in order to represent anything undone, reconstructed, deconstructed, novel or ‘new.’ “There’s nothing new under the sun” was already a cliché at the beginning / in the earliest phases.
Fires and voids all imagined early. [Apeiron. Chora/Khora. Clinamen. Flux. Infinity. ABSENCE. The ‘Other.’]. I begin. Again. GWFH and Freud refer to this as “repetition.” A hopeless hope of emergence. As different or unique as it may seem, ever a plenitude of the pre-existing. The already-there.
Been there, done that, Beckett exhausts from his grave alongside. “He was found lying on the ground…a voice comes to one in the dark” Imagine. Imagine. Everything is already there. The table set and set again, arranged. Already there when you wake to it. World.
It hasn’t…apparently…been given up. Perhaps it is inexhaustible. Limited though we be, we seem to be teeming with it/them… efforts at the unsayable. Unnameable. How it is. What is the what. Lost in the labyrinth of the occurrence, experience, now with shoddy, partial, biased and over-specified or eccentrically particular maps, guides, or rulebooks. Ourselves.
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.
In many times of my life, this simple challenge has kept my creative writing inertia active when seemingly the rest of my life-world was mitigating against it (such as currently). I am happy to join this group again, and hopefully contribute small pieces of worth… and ensure my pen stays active. Thank you Friday Fictioneers!
For ages, they spoke about ‘the Empties.’ Of everything, they said. No emotion, no perception, no experience, or meaning. No one would know. Even absence would be left behind. We imagined, but really hadn’t. It must have come. If/then occurred. This be ‘the Empties.’ There is no knowing. There is no happens. There is no history or time. Perhaps no space. A strange again of Only Things.
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.
I feel somewhat apologetic, but here is one more selection from my archives. Another that when I re-read I am unable to see how I might do better, or how I ever got it done at all, yet all my work un-published or rejected, so I know it is not “good enough” per whatever the current cultural milieu would prefer. “No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Perhaps. In any case, it circles around for me like the tail-eating snake I am, in hopes it might engender something new, no, in hopes it might be put to rest. For any who read it, I would be hard pressed to metaphor my astonishment, humility, gratitude and begging-of-patience, including a sheer and sharp ache of deep appreciation for your life’s time and likely unwarranted, gracious, attention.
wandering through my own writings, and stumbling on things that surprise me. This seems (to me) to be some of the best writing I’ve ever done, something I can’t imagine being able to do, something I’m not sure I ever did – the bewilderments – something I can’t imagine doing again. Thought I’d share…I wonder who/what I might be.
Is reminded (from whence and where?) “My way of not being the same is, by definition, the most singular part of what I am.” Remembers Foucault wrote that (how? why?).
Contemplates. Scrutinizes. Reflects. Adorno: “To make things of which we do not know what they are.” Wherefore? Examines his old face for repetition. For resemblance.
What ever did he suppose the “self” was? Leans closer. 12 years old, exploring raggedy woods surround childhood farm in the Kansas countryside with a crooked clumsy stick (a settler’s gun). Who did he posit “others” to be?
Laramie, somewhere far. Laramie: OFF. Sister. Sometime “friends.” Lucy (before that H____, before that T_____, and prior A______, D_______, J_____, and so on). Had he come to approximate “himself” at all? And who and what and where determined that? Where is the Observer?
“What constitutes the subject in its relations to the true, to rules, to itself?” (Foucault had queried) – the “I” in a sentence – and why had he ever read that stuff? Why did he feel himself “drawn” to it? Magnetized to self-reflection, chaotic perspective gyroscope?
Can almost see the swallowing snake. How long he’s longed (like Laramie) to shed obligations and self-evolving charges (children, lovers, homes and labor)…and how lonely alone turns out to be.
Leans back. The hair, the shoulders, the wrinkles and beard. Sheer size alone an entirely variant specimen from 12, shape of 20, motility of 3, vim of 47.
But the naming remains: Harlequin – spanning centuries, derived from ancestor’s medieval roles. “Ignatius” and “Evgeny” – monikers pilfered from grandfathers – representing both (or some) genetic “sides” – the mother’s and the father’s. Then Alias, alas – selected purely for sound and almost a joke – “let him make his own name” his dad was supposed to have said – “make a name for himself.” Alias i. e. Harlequin – an identity of shifters. Contentless, versatile signs. This or that, also known as, patchwork jester. Volatile collage.
Multi-colored robes of Joseph – Alias certain he’s never led anything out of bondage – let alone himself. A joker then? Entertainer with a deathly fear to perform. Chameleon, hodgepodge, bum. Rag-tag coddle of experiences, interests and events: people, places, actions and things. Jumbled potpourri of knowledge sans expertise. “Who is this what that I am?” he thinks, unattended, gaping at the bathroom mirror. “How?”
Sways toward. Yellowed teeth, crudded sockets. Webs stringing out from the eyes indexing smiles – from when?
Drinks. Diarrhea. Trembles.
Considers process of elimination. Engages, ingests, transforms…and turns it all to shit.
Precisely! If we could do without metaphor! “The real,” “the rules,” “itself” and “other” hacked, torn and blundered, mulched and mushed, pulped and extracted…some to nourish, some to harm, random keeps and passes…What if “itself” were able to masticate, dissolve and disperse, digest and diarrhea itself? If thinking passed like food and water?
Crush the judgments, statements, words and perceptions. Struggle to swallow. Swill the pains and fears – chug through the gullet – expel from the sex. Crap the hopes, the dreams. Piss prejudice and myth. Ingurgitate logical systems, impressions and lust. Eliminate ruin and waste like a transitioning, dynamic…eroding, decrepit, diminishing body.
Swallows again, more of a choking or gulp. Peers closer. Slurps and gobbles, wriggling it down – acids and micro-solutions…expel, eject, devour. Autosarcophagy, necrotizing fasciitis, auto-immune (how did he know these things?) parasiting himself – is it possible to empty? To void? And where’s Laramie? Lucy? The children?
Alias observes the ants in his bathroom. Each Spring. Spring or Fall, no matter his warfare – treating / trimming / grooming the perimeter of ‘his’ home – no difference (or differance) – Spring and Fall, a trail, a train, a miniscule “army” (whether ‘Army Ants’ or no, he could not say) of tiny insects crossing his counter from sink rim to (nonexistent) god-knows-where and back again, doing god-and-perhaps-scientist knows what…traversing, infesting, conquering, appearing, occurring…
…Alias is unattended…
Observing ‘his’ (not-his) ants. A collective of interminable insects roving to and fro between a Lilliputian crack along the paint of his lavatory wall (an outside boundary of ‘his’ ‘home’), the cylindrical rim involving ‘his’ ‘vanity’ (does he still possess any of that?) sink, his children’s toothbrushes (the “family” so wishes the infestation undone) and wherever they might journey over the surface’s edge, the drainage holes, the drawers…
Alias composes both paste and powder of Boric acid and particled sugar. A supposed deadly mix for puny pests. Like “life” for him. Murderous moments of sweetness colluded with deathly compounds: vodka, cigarettes, illicit sex; bacon, buttery-fried flour, altitude…
Responsibility (instinct) and desire (impulse).
Alias is alone. Most definitely that. Solo and (interpretively) forsaken.
His ‘kids’ are grown. His loves (clearly) outworn. His ‘friendships’ recursive, reductive, assumptive, routine. But the weed-trees, the weather and wear, the spiders, the crickets, termites, and dust…and ants, carry on in a differently (and differantly) incessant way.
Indefatigable. Undefeatable. (Like death.)
That within succulent sweetness, luscious limnings of love, lie poisons and trace, exposures – never a joy without risk, no ecstasy lacking its peril, no thriving without its decease. Positives all laced with negatives, happiness balanced in depress.
Alias gazes. He stares. Isolated, trimming at an untrimmed beard over a sink he did not install, looking (and failing to see at all) into a mirror replicating demise…above a trail of ants he’s fed sugary poison for weeks, which appear to be active and thriving, in differance to his own ‘self’ – choking and chortling on pleasures that keep resulting in pains, experiments emerging as monstrous, efforts destroying their ends.
He sighs, does Alias. However he seeks a team and a trail it leads him to toxin, bane eroding his chance. Considers Laramie, Lucy (his wife), and each child. Ruminates purpose or promise or hope. Wonders how relief repulses its reasons. Why remedy acts against cure. How ants insist on their patterns. Why exultation evinces in ruin.