Greetings all. I realize something now. I realize (today), I realize, sitting in the sun of a Winter in Kansas, on my porch, in a rocker, alone, a side-effect, a remnant, remainder, myself… I realize that I have long dreamt of leaving some legacy, of making some mark, of contributing to the world – the natural world – the world as made up of plants, animals, landscapes, elements, humans… the world dizzied with combinations of atoms and molecules… and yet… and yet… I realize it was all about love – all about being realized by being loved, and realizing meaning in loving – NOT leaving a literary legacy, NOT producing interesting and intriguing offspring, NOT making art or language or objects that would outlast me – NO, no, no… Simply recognizing that I exist, existed, am existing in the world of another, and that the world exists, existed, will exist for me – by my affection and attention to its nuances, details, and differences – its specificity of my attention, attraction and resolve: LOVE.
I found this entry in an old journal, a blue oversized Moleskine soft-covered journal, and found (years later) that it still seemed to speak for me… but as I typed and edited it I realized that it has been outdone, realized, accomplished, in the FACT of BEING LOVED and BEING ENABLED TO LOVE… and so all the hopes remain, all the purposes and visions, all the projected communications and connections… but in a context rearranged, reapportioned, reinvented – that of MEANING derived from LOVING and being LOVED. Thanks to my vibrant partner and accomplice, inspiration and reward – for taking the grave gravity of production and transforming it into action… the pinched acuity of competition and accomplishment into offshoot, accumulation and extraneous luxury – that the hopes, dreams and ideas / ideals of a human existence might be translated into freedom, grace, and potential benefit or gift – possibility rather than necessity; offering rather than identity; potentiality rather than desperation – a giving in distinction from a grasping : so I might still possess similar hoping without the fear and trembling, without a sense of pointlessness, without a perception of failure. LOVING – intricate maneuvers of helping and healing, intimate operations of interaction and reciprocation, finely detailed activities of acceptance and reception – the sigh, the breath, the pulse of BEING… change me. Change and change and change me. As a parent, a man, a partner, a person. Thank you dear love – a wonder, a woman, an incredible human – a person: full and becoming, so generous, so tender, so affirmative and kind, so rich and creative, inventive and becoming, so new – I love you. The world is different now. Its meaning, its point, its aim, its occasion.
This old and rediscovered writing has distinct meaning… because you, and life, and love, and… an evolving and differentiated “I.”
I am using the blue notebook with a blue pen to complement. Why? Because you asked. You said “everyone wants to know.”
In other words, if it’s going to count for what matters, it has got to be specific and special – set apart, somehow more final, more complete. I’ll use it for the whole – for photos, drawings and more – all the blue notebook in blue ink – for you. Because apparently, “everyone wants to know.”
Mom and dad ask in their roundabout, passive-regressive surreptitiously accusatory way, as is their fashion – kindly and quiet, ever with a look of care and concern, yet secretly shouting their “what is wrong with you!?” “What is wrong with US, that you…” and on and on and blah blah blah…
My memory isn’t like that the first five years of life…that I pretend to remember. But all is mostly smells and sounds and light from there. Trees and grass and dirt, how brightness gleamed and glanced and filtered through, with times of wind and rain.
Not that you care… I’m fairly certain that’s not what is being asked for, not by you, by my sibling, children, or lifetime of “friends” and “family” – whoever, wherever they’ve become.
You’re the livewire – and perhaps the children – perhaps they will want to know, at some point, perhaps not. Perhaps everyone’s already figured my story – diagnosed and prescribed me. Perhaps.
Be that as it may, I’ve thought long and hard, reviewing what I thought I knew, how I felt I felt, what it seems I’ve seen, and so on, and decided, for you, for you, really, and maybe a little of a bit for myself (curiously) and a percentage for my kids should they ever seek to know or wonder, or have need of psychological freedom, or give a shit about who or why… I decided to use this damned blue notebook with matching pen and try to learn just what I think about it all, mostly because, as you put it, “everyone wants to know” – (and WHO might this “everyone” be?).
Should I start with the hands, the head, or the heart? I suppose the limbs and loins will come into play as well – god knows the guts and the goiter.
I remember an opening. A time I was touched, in the rain, and my suddenly skin, my obvious self-enclosure – as opening, margin, and veil – a fabric of me, and a screen.
I wanted to make a difference, you see. Make something, I don’t know, construct an element everyone could hold on to. Take in hand, heart and head. Keep or repeat as needed. Something like that. I knew I wouldn’t last, none of this, none of anything. “The center cannot hold” sort of deal.
I ought not begin there. They’re all wound up together like knots – the head looking down, arms wrapped around, concealing and revealing the heart, the guts, the loins and moving limbs. I can’t take a one without other, thinking and feeling about it, my actions, ideas, and sensations all.
Perhaps I’ll pretend. (Just what you’ve all loved so well about me – to discover pretense – how I’ve molded myself to imagined desires). I’ll pretend I’m an aged man seated on a stiff wooden chair, children / grandchildren gathered all about me – a specimen or model – something to be taken apart and examined. I lift off my shirt and my body is read – questions asked – we all get somewhere in this way.
Let’s see – here – along the shoulder – a self-portrait by Egon Schiele (self-tormented asylum brother) and a snake that is eating its tail. “Le Ouroborous,” I hack out – “don’t you know it?” Sign of doctors, ingenuity, medicine and art – creation, destruction intertwined round and round. Self-devouring while birthing its form as it alters. The mastication and regurgitation of “I.”
A young one might say “what’s that? – the curlicues and elaborate spiel?” Garcia Lorca I’d sigh. Yes. The grand leaping bugger of light. He’s yellow and lemons, crickets and birds! You know the stuff that sends you! Portal moments of sight or song and ‘wham!’ all the crap pelted into your brain and body get shaken and stirred together like surrealist still life. Incongruity making sense. Opposites attracting, no, better – look at your aging mother and I – a juxtaposed spectrum, paradox and carnival!
They say that you wanted to know.
Yes there’s Kafka, Blanchot, Cixous and Lispector. Jabes and Beckett now seeped in my veins. Dostoevsky, Bakhtin, Rilke. Gods and angels, drink and demons all carved in the skin of their names. Nietzsche and ridiculous happiness. Wittgenstein and the torment of words, of meanings, of none. I’d be a working inscription, at surface.
The corridors – head, heart and hands.
Are you sure anyone wanted to know?
The sounds of piano? Coaxing the keys in steady patterns – mimicking rain; or poems – yes, we forget Giacometti’s “Man Falling” – a perpetual stumble on the back of my hand, hoping neither knew what the other was up to. But they did and they do – I see that now – all parts of same body, stretched with same skin. Poems as stripped-down sculptures, some essential chants or song – just a gaze or a wisp of caress. Droppings of blood. Miracles that something remains after we’re through with our twisting and grasping.
Is this what you wanted? Does it explain – anything? I doubt it. Hardly think so.
Here at the ribs. The cracked and the lumpen. There was a time. Times I thought maybe risking and danger – a reach at euphoria – some panicking life – might make one feel much more alive. How do you think you all got here? Desperate plungings into the unknown, oh dear ones, like mad scientists messing around in the lab! The edges of cliffs, clinging to limbs, insecure at wits’ ends, going for broke.
And break we did.
But just look at you fertile seedlings, good eggs. I never meant to be rough with you all. To risk what is fragile in you. Ribs, here – cave and cage for the heart.
I can still breathe you. Charred and chortled, this was one great pleasure – to know I was breathing, in-spired. I know you all despised it, and it caused me to smell stale and rotting, but the rush of smoke down this pipe here into the bellows of slimy flesh…that let me know I was taking it in, not an automaton or senseless machine – no, I was hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling – BEING – I could feel it in my ashen lungs. Sometimes it hurt. What we ingest. But it really goes in and visibly comes out – everything – for good or ill. I needed to know it tangibly.
Why? you ask, why?
Look at the cranium stooped and weighed down. That sucker was a burden of liquid fire. All curled over like that the entirety of my life – looking in, at, in. What’s there? How does it work? For “whom”? When? Is there even a why? Examining, dreaming, recording and imagining – listen – say it back, say it forth, combine and copulate, shake it and stir – use that heavy weight, whirr whirr chrrr and whirr. Profile the shape of some jagged question mark, dotted where the heart must be.
And look at it now, nearly buried into the chest. It happens. Weather-systems, signsponge, it all will run its course. It once was aimed upwards and outwards, into fantasies, hopes and abstractions, and for years I kept it aimed straight ahead – horizontal, seeking directions – but slowly and surely its drug down toward the heart, pulsing muscle, plug for the cords. Everything up and away, everything out there or behind, it’s all happening here – in the mix, filtering through, circulating the circuitry of head, heart and hands – latching up or breaking down in the system.
What was it you wanted to know? Limbs and loins, head and heart, I’m acknowledging and exposing, affording view – I’m aware description does not explain a thing – the wonderful views of science still unable to explain…
The waste gets processed below, legs running away now knobby and stiff. But there, clinging in its corner like a core – my erratic, agitated, beating beast. Entire web of inexplicable drives and energy, fears and misery, desires and dread – my heart. Does this explain it? Does this explain anything? What anyone wanted to know?
Gasping there like the mouth of a landed fish, pulsing purplish like an aroused member – my heart. If I poke and coax it, tear at it or wring it onto this blue notebook in blued blood – will it explain?
Here, whomever, look. Here it lies, cheats, and steals. Here it gives and it aches and breaks. Here it prolongs and stops itself short. Pulpy mass of living meat – humana – the am therefore am. Take it, read it, test it – heal it if you wish or can. I’m open.
Is this what you wanted?
What everyone wanted to know?
Greetings all – I wanted to apologize for the sloppy frenzy of disregulated writings I’ve been releasing with little meditation or editing of late. “In the midst of things…” somewhere near the crossover looping of composition, storage, digestion, excretion, and growing…I’ve found it somewhat difficult to know what it is I am doing aside from what must be done.
an entering of halves and fractions
tired and ecstatic
sad and delighted
moving on and along.
Having lost and lost and lost
while ever continuing to gain,
such simple equations
of little sense
yet filled with meaning
a meager promise
and maximal joy.
It’s December, and I’m writing outside, lucky by so many counts.
- It’s December, and 45°
- My partner in love and life instills health and wellness in me
- I’m writing
- James is serving me coffee, ice water and double greyhounds enabling me to work without interruption
I’m in what you might call a “Cusp Area.”
The present is always a liminal space. I am a few days away from completing a Master’s degree in Library & Information Management, and months away from embarking on a PhD in Media & Communication coupled to the Arts at a University in Switzerland.
I work very part-time (10-20 hours / week) for the United States Postal Service, attend regular psychotherapy sessions, parent 4 children, read and write as much as I can, cook and clean a LOT, and spend as much time as I can with my beloved (a brilliant, gorgeous, amazing, resourceful, intelligent and creative human).
I rest very little.
We (my immediate family) will not survive January on my income (sans school loans). Cusp.
Change is imminent, and yet NEVER is NOT.
Every day relationships morph. What could be termed “stability” in life must be radically redefined to have any resemblance or “fit” to reality – which is always, ALWAYS in enormous, factually ubiquitous, tremendous FLUX.
There is something like “similarity” – of persons, circumstances, situations, emotions, experiences… which we occasionally tag “familiar” or “repetition,” (providing a modicum of regularity, “consistency,” “normativity”) but none of it, EVER!! – is “identical,” “same,” “repeated.” Not even ourselves, one “moment” to the next (i.e. in spans of cursive time – what seems utterly continuous is still difference – otherwise could not be noticed).
I am writing this in cursive in attempts toward continuities of form and content. And yet there is vast uniqueness with each stroke. “Distance,” difference, change.
I delight in working in language – a symbology for expressing experience – a fabric, social set and structure – a shared and flexibly rule-bound medium.
Possessing or harboring…containing vast incommunicable DIFFERENCES – between ethnicities, cultures, geographies, genders, contents, shapes, habits, practices, processes…REALITIES. And yet useable. Useful.
I am writing outside in December, in Kansas, in the United States of America, in cursive, in English, in black ball-point ink, in a ruled soft-covered notebook, in 2014, in attempts partially to think, to recount, to visualize, to express, to extend, to discover, remember, critique, perceive, view… understand a curious unstoppable flow –
The Experience of Being a Living Organism
with billions of particularities – both structures and substance, arrangement and order, experience and resources, habits, capacities, learning, abilities, perceptions, interpretations, emotions…
THIS kind, type, genus, species, instance, sort, occurrence, happening of this one/many, living (active, interactive, interacting, linked, dependent, individual, functioning) THING.
Differently now and now and NOW.
I cannot curtail difference. I can hypothesize similarities. I have agency, but an energy and forcefulness utterly dependent and constrained by countless systems, substances, processes and constituents.
I have a kind of power – corralled by everything within and around me. I am at the mercy of – the support and boundary of – all else + the combinatory elements and activities of WHAT I exist of and the rest of existings.
I do not fool myself into thinking I am a cause or blame, and yet I am utterly response – able / – ible. “My” interactions and interactivities, are mine / “me” / THIS.
THIS & THAT, Yin/Yang, Individual/Environment, “self”/”other”, – difference without discontinuity, ever in exchange: molecularly, actively, REALLY, and wholly.
EXISTENCE IS THE CUSP.
I love while / as / if / because / in spite of (or in contradistinction to) I am loved.
I move with / against / into / around / while / within / because of / in distinction from, possible movements, contents, and affordances / constraints of everything about / within / around me.
I “exist” (stand-out) because I am, in a swarm, a sea, of existences, existings.
I have no other chances to be…
…outside of my surrounds.
I am. Within a lifeworld. Without which – I am not.
And still, “I am.” Singular / plural. Similar across space-time, an appearance and occurrence of similarity marked by difference.
The safest expression (for one seeking at “truths” or reliable, testable regularities) is:
We, the living.
I thank you.
In the interests of authenticity…
- The fact or quality of being true or in accordance with fact; veracity; correctness. Also (overlapping with sense) accurate reflection of real life, verisimilitude.
- The quality of truthful correspondence between inner feelings and their outward expression; unaffectedness, sincerity.
- A mode of existence arising from self-awareness, critical reflection on one’s goals and values, and responsibility for one’s own actions; the condition of being true to oneself.
- The fact or quality of being real; actuality, reality. (Oxford English Dictionary, 2014.)
Unveiling. The action of reveal. Is the “condition of being true to oneself” a possibility?
Recently my partner and love wrote me a revealing, unveiling, letter that blunted me with authenticity – a quality of herself that she was questioning in that very message.
Self-awareness. Sincerity. Something corresponding to actuality, reality. Genuineness.
How often do we present or re-present ourselves authentically? Do we all wish to? What would it look like? Sound like? Would we lose friends? Lovers? Jobs? If our outward expressions matched our inner feelings?
WHO AM I?
The complaint was compromise. Pretense. The wriggling falsities of “fitting in” or “being useful” or “surviving” in the world of humans. In social groups and situations. In life. The feeling that what “works” or garners respect, interest, desire in the commerce of human beings is not authentic to who I actually am. That what I am “liked” for is a misrepresentation, a partial product, a fabrication, a mixed message, does NOT “correspond to actuality, reality.” And is it possible to undo that? To live authentically in the variegated, unpredictable, situational and relative world of humans? And is authenticity of an individual even a potential actuality / reality?
This has prompted me days of thought. In effect it was relieving, releasing – my lover is exhausted of the “play of living” – the work of “fitting in,” “surviving with others,” “belonging” in ways that feel partial, inexact, false even, untrue, ALWAYS incomplete, inaccurate, inauthentic.
I felt freed to say my honesty. When I father, I pretend to be a father. I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know what I should be doing. I don’t know what it means to father children. I love them, I care about them, I am frightened by them, I am exhausted by the responsibility, I gauge my activities based on parenting behaviors I DON’T feel comfortable with, or that I wished for…I act, I pretend I’m a man who knows how to love, instruct, “raise” children! I do not know what I’m doing. I feel inauthentic. Like I’m reaching, practicing, experimenting, trying to be what I think a good “father” might be.
For years and years and years and years I have “feigned” being a writer, a musician, a scholar, an artist (it feels like). Yes, I’ve read a lot. Yes, I’ve studied, I’ve practiced, I’ve performed. Yes I think I “get” some things about the world and our human experience of it. Yes I LOVE writing words, mixing them up, crafting phrases and sentences with them, attempting to mate them to my internal experiences, ideas, emotions… but I almost ALWAYS feel an impostor not an expert, like I’m trying out voices, expressions, characters, compilations to FIND OUT if that’s how I think, feel, imagine?! So if ever I’m desired, complimented, responded to – I think it is an accident, a gratuitous kindness, a pitying. That I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m simply trying, groping in language in a thorough darkness.
As a lover, a partner, I have simply tried to please. To find out what is wanted and do, be, perform that. How does an intimate relationship “work”? I don’t know. Everyone is different. Nothing I learn to enact, behave, communicate, engage – is successfully effective in the next relationship (or, obviously, in the relationships ended before that!). Could I BE whatever mucky morphing “self” “living human organism” I am (at any given moment) and be loved? It seems so unlikely! I don’t even know what that is (the mucky morphing living individual human organism) to express or represent to the Other one… – do they? Does ANYone?
So do we ALL feel like we’re FAKING our way through being human? Adapting “roles” and “styles” and “opinions” and behaviors in order to survive? To be liked? To fit in? To feel good about ourselves? To feel useful? To BE?
Over decades, I have found that there are some things that steadily characterize me. I like to drink and smoke and read and write. I love to love and desire and be loved and desired. All of those things share the “actuality” and “reality” of being activities that I don’t understand. Things that seem to steady, nourish and keep me vital…and yet also damage, wound, hurt and make me vulnerable. That wobble. That trembling.
To my lover I responded theoretically. That my understanding of a living organism is that its “identity” in fact is created and activated in every moment’s situation and surround. That ALL of being a human is identifying oneself in relation to circumstance – a moment-to-moment relation and response to THOSE and THAT which constitutes its happening. That “living” involves trying style, voice, behavior, activity, vocation, perception, interpretation, thought after another after another – quickly realizing that in EVERY instance the “fit” is partial, inauthentic, somewhat true (what feels good) and somewhat false (what is uncomfortable) – that BEING ALIVE is a wandering experimental trial of sorts. That if we CHOSE or locked ourselves into an IDENTITY and attempted to be consistent in it – we would in fact deteriorate, become bitter – that the wisdom is NOT “I AM THAT” but “THAT IS PARTIALLY ME” for now, in this instance, at present…
The questions keep coming. We bemoan that when we take a job, a position, a role, responsibilities… we tire of them as we feel the constraint of structured, required, or expected behaviors and activities. When I compose a writing work – within pages I tire of its direction, its characters, its ethos – I can feel where a thing is going and whether it’s interesting to me or not, I tire of it – feel constrained by what’s created, feel fake in pushing it in another direction…even innovation and inventiveness feel PRETEND.
Perhaps LIVING = the tension of partiality. Striving to “fit” to “belong” to “match” (be safe in, acknowledged, understood, allowed) means adaptation, alteration, invention, reciprocal construction, which would seem to inherently demand compromise, partiality, veiling and highlighting – what will seem / feel to be INAUTHENTIC, misrepresentation, “FAKE.”
And yet – it is through this wriggling tango that we also come to discover what “fits” us – what we enjoy, what our perspectives are, who/how/with whom we like to be, what feels “good” to us and what makes us afraid/uncomfortable/ and so on…
Cynical view: we’re ever pretending and untrue. Hopeful view: we’re navigating and discovering, becoming. And it seems that both are “real” and “actual.” Authenticity (maybe?) equals partiality and pretense for humans? Equals morphing and becoming? Equals uncertainty and acting (adapting)? Equals attempting to be?
In a recently daydreamt interview (I realize these may be narcissistic, but they have occurred all through my life, and come to function as ways to take account of myself) – in which I had composed writings that earned critical acclaim AND garnered popular and commercial success (crazy, right?!) – I was being astutely questioned (after all, I am both interviewer and interviewee – it’s a daydream), and pressured to account for both the critical acclaim and the mass consumption of the tangled materials of my celebrated novelistic-poetic-essaying (some multi-genred hodge-podge and hurly-burly’d collaging of human inscription). [Which is also, obviously, occurring in this everyday attempt at its retelling]. For better or worse.
By any account, each time I endeavored to formulate an answer to reckon for the apparent realities under fantasized questioning, I was foiled – ultimately unable to appropriately language ANYthing I strove to express – for the fundamental reason that the shared social convention of language – the available (or known) English nouns, verbs, structures, phrases, vocabulary, ontologies, etymologies, forms, content and context seemed false to my meaning as soon as I spoke them.
I would begin to assay a response, and each available term (even though utilizing an extensive and deft, adept English vocabulary) – each word I was choosing – would seemingly cancel itself. I was caught in pregnant pauses – an author seeking a term – and the accessible signs and sounds of an encyclopedic dictionary all clanged untrue – inaccurate, incomplete and implausible – incorrect!
The interview proceeded (notably un-entertainingly and un-interestingly) with solid and well-considered queries posed from the history of human making, reflection and inquiry…followed by prolonged silences as I contemplated what might be honest, authentic replies…resulting in the beginnings of obsessive-compulsive, over-thought, manically scrutinized hesitations – cancelled out and undone, revised and corrected, taken back or erased as soon as they were spoken. Simultaneously to becoming aware of their possible interpretations – conventionalized meanings gassing the atmosphere – the breath and air of their saying and hearing.
For example: “Well, I think that authors…how could I speak for others…it seems to me…no that’s not right,” or, “It is my intuition, sense of things…my felt experience… no, that’s not quite it.” “As the mind processes the body’s…wait…what is not body about the mind? Our language presents a splitting of the two that was never there…I mean…no, no, this is inadequate…” and so on. Nothing being said.
“Ever try. Ever fail. No matter.
Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
The failure of the interview eventually came around to the following… a couple responses that might represent something almost accurate, maybe. May communicate a touch of something authentic, honest. It has stuck with me for a few days, and yet I can’t quite be sure…
A question arose concerning what I might have done, or be doing if I had fathered less children, were not bound to sustaining a family, and so on… I reflected awhile… and soon realized that I am unable to imagine my life without offspring. Nearly half of my existence has been lived as a father, and I cannot think of experiences or expressions that they do not co-create in some way. If any of it were taken back – the struggles and fears, broken marriages, anxiety, joys and determination to survive, regular interactions with their development, activities, quizzings and personalities… I only feel impoverished.
The illusional interview concluded with a large catch-all question, something along the lines of: “Your writings have profoundly moved some readers, yet you consistently express discontent – revising, beginning again, evading – even disappointment in your faltering, hesitant works. Can you talk about this experience? How do you account for your dissatisfaction in light of your readers reported satisfaction?”
My reply: “The only way I can think to address this right now is in terms of a conflux of flood waters. I, the writing one, have a flood of experience that I wish to understand, interact with, relate to somehow, attempt to comprehend. I utilize the methods, marks and systems that we, as a species over time, have collaborated and devised with which to communicate – with ourselves, with others – and I attempt, attempt, attempt to forge some accord between the vast swarming flood that my life-experience ever is – as an organism embedded in world – and the means and methods we have for making sense of, imagining, and transcribing such total experiential flow.”
“The resulting expression is always more-than, distinct and different-from the felt experience I have of the flood (as the medium borrows from far beyond my own individual abilities or thoughts, capacities – an enormous fund of expressions, vocabulary and species-deep conventionalized experiences I could not possibly evince on my own) AS WELL AS less-than, deficient, incapable and variant from (not equal to) the ubiquity of my experienced flood. I am left simultaneously hoping the conventions of language will prove adequate, and despairing they never will be. What results from this tangle is a writing – a text, document, artifact – of my individual attempts to process the flood of my human experience in conventionalized signs.”
“From the other side of the markings comes the flood of each individual reader’s human experience. As they (or we, I’m describing my reading experiences) engage the verbal expressions the writer selects to represent or elicit their own flood, the reader’s flood rushes through, around, with, into these written expressions. When what is deciphered via these conventional funds of language feels apropos, accurate or apt to the reader’s experiential living flood – we are moved, feel met, acknowledged and represented, almost comprehended and understood, and we may feel that this collection, order, expression of language we have discovered in reading actually writes us, so to speak. Which is why you may hear readers say such things as “I couldn’t have said this better…” or “I can’t imagine this expressed any other way…let me read it to you” (the thrust of quotation). The section of text, general outlook, sound, rhythm or content of the artifact feels almost miraculously adequate and accurate to our own flood of experience. Of course, often it does not – in which cases we revise or repurpose our readings toward knowledge or entertainment, something partial or other than full-flood experiencing, holistic (as nearly as possible) communication.”
“We know, as readers, no Other’s experience can be identical to our own, but in lucky moments it feels so. Feels possible that our experience of the living flood is shared, understood, that our individuality, solipsism is not a locked room, or impassable barrier. This is the “magic,” if you will, of human social conventions as mediums for individual experiences: they enable or facilitate our joinings, our cooperation, solidarity, convergence.”
“So neither the writer nor the reader are responsible for authoring profound writings, or rather BOTH are: multiple floods of experience crash through the arranged signs and symbols, separated by time and space and differences, but still possible violent confluences – depending on both, or all. Living experiencings rushing the sign-sets enabling some felt sympathy, intimacy, accord between the floodings and the expressions: conflux.”
“Otherwise it simply doesn’t ring true – might be appreciated for its artistry or ingenuity, ideas, craft, imagination – but NOT an occasion for profound felt accord, convergence, a totalizing feel of representation/expression.”
“Floods in conflux: right now this seems to me the opportunity that care and attention, effort and awareness of our socially species-al co-creating mediums of communication (art, music, technologies, labors, habitudes, languages, modes of inquiry, etc…) allow for, offer us, in moments of fortunate concord.”
“Does that answer your question in any way?”
Moments: The reality of accrual and depletion, growth and diminishment
“It is of the essence of life that it does not begin here or end there, or connect a point of origin with a final destination, but rather that it keeps on going, finding a way through the myriad things that form, persist and break up in its currents.”
Tim Ingold – Being Alive: Essays on knowledge, movement and description
In the reading journal I keep, I record what I read each day in entries numbered according to my years. For instance, today is Day 364 of 43. Each day counts UP the days I have lived, simultaneously counting DOWN the days I have left.
If our weight in the world is conspired via our capacity for object-making, “perception,” – how we collate and identify active collective of particles, lending them shape and color, space and duration – in effect: “organize them according to our own purposes and facilities” – co-creating manageable entities with which we might interact and navigate life “sensibly” (body-minded)
then the “lightness” of vitality/movement/being comes from the constant (relatively frenetic) buzz and action of the unseen particles composing and constituting the scales we are able to perceive and conceive.
Does this sound workable? I trust that I am a hive of vibrating, exchanging, bounding, colliding and connecting atoms/molecules/whatever, and that to certain interlinked bundles of material interactivities this can appear, be sensed, perceived, interacted with, as an apparently distinct “organism/being/organization of activities” constructing (or being constructed/perceived AS) almost a form, a differance, an “object.”
And likewise, and vice-versa.
Particles, drilled down or zoomed out in their interactivities and motion form ever-varying “wholes” (temporarily composed perceptible forms or variable entities). Thus poets and scientists, thus Ovid and religions, philosophers…HUMANS…METAPHOR. Taking various realities for another and one another, or, ALWAYS – in relation to.
Crossing and dipping, perceiving/conceiving, we are able to invent scenarios and subjects, conduits and concretions, whereby we are also able to communicate, invent, share, cognize imaginative possibilities for our temporary coagulates (or “life-forms,” ever active and morphing). The tinier particles simply continue their trajectories and behaviors while their collaborated forms appear to be “born” (or formulated, occurring) and die (or dissolve, dismember, separate to join in other alignments, reactions and compounds).
Thinking is a lucky pleasure of our particular combo-formulations, as love, emotion, felt embodiment, enmindedness, entanglements…
I am grateful for all of it: lovely purposeful accidents to sense, perceive, grow, change, become, decease, connect and disconnect…attach and release…combine and unravel.
IN THE MIDST of which…and this is where the trembling, shifting, unstable, particularly and elaborately conditioned partial perception “I” initially chose (in languaging) to begin…”in the midst of…”
but then I realized that MIDST might beggar a belief-explanation (theory) as to what I was beginning in the midst of…ALWAYS…this strange living process…and so I diverted through the above contingent caveat.
i.e. EVERYTHING DEPENDS. On context, formulations, occasions, circumstances, surroundings, kind, type, species, conditions composing NOW.
There is some longevity to “sticking together” (successfully? Symbiotically? Interactively linked or bonded for some formal survivable persistence) but it’s all quite temporary (the place-time from which an opinion is held or conceived, promulgated…changes slightly with each moment, more in an hour, a day, each “year,” each…occurrence).
To say: all is active and contingent. I.e. DEPENDS – on multitudes of very specific things, unseen tiny things, enormous systemic things, situations, arrangements being…”the case.”
A Hal Hartley film or a novel by Dostoevsky, the face of my child or the sound waves of song; the body and voice of my beloved…won’t have any “effect” “meaning” “sense” when my particles realign and this particular arrangement is “dead,” “decayed,” “reorganized.”
Activity is a curious thing.
Although we experience “age,” “knowledge,” “experience,” as a kind of “growth” or accretion, it isn’t very long at all in our formulating as a human before we become profoundly aware that our “growth” is an indicator of cessation, “progress” a sign of our undoing…dismantling, shifting, and changing.
This central comprehension of human systems – paradoxical tension, momentary accretion/diminishment – likely fuels much of the emotion, trauma, passion, energy, delight, grief, disturbances and elations of our particular species instinctual cognitively embodied behaviors.
Angst, joy, terror, hope – perhaps all of these reside in this mysterious yin-yang of coming together / coming apart AT ONCE and ALWAYS. Each addition is a removal, each connection another breakage, each revelation a forgetting. Each next accrues a last and never.
NOW – the pivot point of addition/subtraction – for human living.
I crave, delight, wonder, rejoice, and find my survival with each NEXT while grieving, losing, aching, suffering, and ceasing with each movement as well.
There is no choice in the matter (that I can see) – it happens. Everything we do effects and disaffects inherently.
Rising indeed IS falling. Growing IS diminishing. Living truly IS dying, while our dying is yet living for something else…Reciprocal, ongoing, continuous realignments. Any departure is a novel thing joined.
And thus, simply process, simply going-on. Not “us” but it. Not you, I, we, but the particles and universal systems, arrangements.
And we, in the midst.
Perhaps. That’s how I’m thinking it today.
As I count up and down the days.
“In the beginning was the word…”
“…and the word was god.”
My youth was spent immersed in a form of neo-fundamentalist, conservative, evangelical Christianity. It would be difficult for me to estimate the number of bible readings, passages memorized, commentaries consumed, and sermons received during my first twenty-some years of life.
Twenty-some years later, libraries of world literature later, this particular phrase, passage, verbal construction remains like a haunting, a rule, a resonance and reverberation of the deepest sort – a kind of First Sentence that rises and echoes in me whenever I turn myself to writing. A statement some whole of me attached to in presumptive belief and passion that constitutes, in its way, the work of my adult life.
In what “beginning” was the word? And what was that word, are we to read this word as, literally, “god”? Or are words themselves divine, godlike in their creativity and actionable functions? In the full passage we read that the word is both “with” god and itself god…a quintessential meta-statement from whatever interpretive stance one selects.
“In the beginning was the word [in beginnings words become? In words become beginnings?],
and the word was with god [words that are with] and the word was god [words that are].”
Religiously: when humans spoke “god,” gods became. Conception creating realities. Referentiality – a term is attached to an object, idea, relation…and the object, idea, relation begins to become that term (and vice-versa, through public practice).
Words epitomize co-creation, collusion. I am a tiny human organism, an infant birthed into a community of persons. This community attaches a term to me: “Nathan.” I grow into that name, define and fill it with characteristics, behaviors, activities, experiences…and, for my communities (the others I relate to) that word “Nathan” comes to mean my specific organism in the world.
Words are beginnings, are like relational diagrams, invisible cross-hatchings and webbing throughout lived experience as humans – inceptions of internal and external possibilities and limitations via their activity as connective linkages, as references and realities. Every term is metaphor – symbol, signal, object – requiring its interpretant. The multi-sided act: language.
So what began with language? Language that joins with and is?
I suggest meaning. Conscious participation, co-mmunication, reflective relating.
Religiously: posit Supreme Being and it posits world. Speak reality and reality speaks. All a matter of relating, relation…communication…language.
World becomes via collaboration, interaction – made possible through efforts of mutuality and distinction: gestures, intelligible utterances, multilogues, dialogues – communication.
Possible interpretation: A god languages “god” into being. “Unicorn,” “fairy,” “truth,” “quark,” “molecule,” “consciousness,” – invisible, imperceptible “realities” language (WITH) and then become (ARE). Subsequently the commerce and exchange of the universe alters…
Each utterance brings new relations and thereby new “things/realities” into concourse.
I can believe that what begins in language (or, communication/relation/collusion) is MEANING (such a word as “god” itself).
I find, trundling through countless notebooks, pages, typescripts, letters and journals, that at the head of any larger work or endeavor I attempt is inscribed this personally indelible takeaway from my youth’s indoctrination:
In the beginning is the word
a thing that creates in being constructed
always co-constructed WITH something else/Other
and becoming something else/Other in its utterance and collusion
organism + environment = meaning
all reality resides in relation
all of these also words, beginnings, possibilities
In beginnings are words
and in words begins begins begins
ever forging relations into realities into relations
tying things one to another to another to another
en route as route
Rattling bones, deep-falling diaphragm – through continuous sightings and encounters with “H” (“her”) these consistently occur – even over hours, days, and months.
I might say that what characterizes our particular version of intimacy are curiosity and wonder and the ecstasy of discovery and finding – imbuing apparently abandoned spaces with vitality and imagination.
A week later was a potluck for the visiting artist. Small-talking with “her” in the kitchen – I felt inadequate to be occupying her time and “let her go” to mingle with the many I was certain were desirous of her indomitable and imaginative company. I spoke with her partner, the farm-inhabiting-best-friend-artist-lady, and H sidled in. There was much laughter (their minds are contagious and entertaining – as if the structures of adulthood and professional culture never quite ‘took’ or corralled possibilities)…around “her” my breath dissipates. We’d both been hired as rural mail carrier associates with joint training to occur the week following; both commissioned to respond to this artist’s intimately relational performance work; both in love with abandoned places and their loss and decay – both committed to discovering lost or overlooked things.
There we were.
I in poverty.
Day one of training sat us next to one another, her length and beauty, doodles and read-alouds from the training manual enthralling. I worked to breathe and lived through my peripheral perception – registering her movements, hair, wrist, knee, hands, mouth pronouncing acronyms, quirky nervous habits, footwear, scent and clothing…
She suggested (did she?) lunch together. I’m quite certain that converged through a clumsy stumbling and fragmented semblance of conversation. I had planned only banana and peanut butter on my budget – yet each day we went – for that amazing hour – somewhere I’d never been before in a city I’d spent over three decades in and around. An abandoned hotel, a nature trail, small chain restaurants, of which one, perhaps, constituted a first “date,” as, after placing our orders, she removed to the restroom and I was left to pay the bill! (Delightful things like that).
Blessings. I was gaining practice in “soaking in the good” – a strategy instructed through my therapy, and H was much better than I ever imagined, a remarkable alchemy of behaviors and body parts – co-constituting an unknown ‘ideal’ to my mind, sensations, experience and history. I was dumbstruck, amazed, bewildered, befuddled – in other words – alive and in hope.
I’d been asking her coterie of creator-friends to visit my home for fire or food or an art-making party – to no response or avail. Everyone taking a read. She agreed, then doubted, then declared she thought she might appear via an internet message. Thus she arrived, of a Sunday afternoon in April, to my home.
We parlayed and exchanged – art, family, friends, lives, plans, hopes, strategies, likes and dislikes, ideas and tears, meanings and lies and other truths. I ached toward her – finding romance and desire and a periscope of loving peeking out, looking round, checking for safety. It isn’t safe. It’s unlikely, bizarre, fantastical : sixteen years between us and four marriages – her blossoming while I fade to grey, her popping with –larity, my struggling for place. She asked me to sit next to her.
The sides of our arms. Legs. Eventually fingers becoming entangled. We talked staring straight ahead, caught in some astronaut training module machine, no gravity, no reference, dizzied and desirous, disbelieving and desirous, frightened and desirous, with just the right amount of belonging and estrangement, novelty to craft courage and excitement throughout our neural nets.
We concocted funnel cakes of cinnamon and sugar, mustard, jalapenos and sausage. They flopped and sickened, we laughed and she left. I think perhaps we loved, even then, that day. She left behind a bevy of hands from a book she created, by extraction. Our hands were open, our minds and hearts, a letting-go, with patterns and a freeing, a dance: in common, in Kansas, in history, in hope, in commitments, in fears and neuroses.