“‘Word work,’ Toni Morrison said in Stockholm, ‘is sublime because it is generative,’ its felicity in its reach toward the ineffable. ‘We die,’ she said. ‘That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.'”
Someday maybe, someone will say of me that I “tore up language,” made it useless.
Maybe, someday, someone will “feel” that. That I destroyed something precious. Something necessary. Like oxygen, or water: something we could not live without. And I ruined it. Like meaning.
That would be something. Something I could do, with nothing.
Simple undoing. To sequester and burn. Try or experiment. Atomic bombing atoms. Untangle into knots – vacuum emptiness, so to (un)speak. Rather ask than say. Rather ponder or wonder than postulate or state. To query, not question. Change, not challenge.
Disorder and dismember as an alternative to reordering and remembering. Dissolute versus dissolve. “Me.”
How significant that would be! How real and present I might become! How impossible to ignore! Then ‘I’ might come, be-come, cum-cum… be undone, finally.
De-ranger opposing A-rRanger. The chaos, disturbance, tremor and volatility… the tension pulling on the only bottom we can conceive… the bottomless. Topless. Beautiful that way. Exposed. Denuded. Open. Available. A fresh take. Lake. Like. Lack. Unknowable. Perhaps deep or infinite. Perhaps uncontained.
Let’s say “language.” Let’s say molecules, atoms, cells. Let’s say “space” or “time.” Let’s say “let us say.” (i.e. let’s assume something).
Like hallucinogenetic drugs without purpose. Instrumentalization. Meaning. Like feeling too cold or too warm. Like grief or ecstasy – any of these experiences we don’t understand.
Disjunctive dysfunction. The uncanny. Morphology. K would call it (maybe) “infinite possibilities of infinities without numeration – perhaps most of which are empty” – and how would we know (or be able to know) what that means? Like this here = that.
Suppose you could “see” it (imagine – image-in) – I use language. I’d use language. I would. To “see” it. To image-in, to imagine the impossible…compossible.
To love. To be. To live. To try.
Apparently (according to K) that doesn’t “do” anything – doesn’t instrumentalize or operationalize the unknown potential, even though I compare it with sound or dance or computers or nuclear war – as physical.
Whatever. (Exactly!). The vague potential of supposed infinite possibilities we cannot possibly comprehend, uncover, dis-cover, realize (as far as we know, at our scale of experiencing) – but how is it not part of these possibilities? Actualized, instrumented (pen / paper / sign), operated-in or upon or with or for…
Here is your possible result: an 100th Monkey.
Water moved all over me – a bath, a shower, the rain… I broke my skin stumbling on a curb, and bled… a knife, a table… Ha! I have a body. Yes, there it is. Maybe I’ll make love – what will be discovered then? Yes, “we.” I have a porous body.
Another reason writing is an instrumentalized “reason.” Eat this. Peace among worlds. Going on a manhunt for a woman. A particular ‘one.’ Watch me (if you want).
I can pull at the hair on my face. I just gathered my child in an embrace (a ‘hug’ we called it). Ha! I have a body, it is porous. Operationalized by “desire” (we call it).
Part II: Language (we call it).
Floor (feet feel). Hair (hands hold, harry, hank). Skin (sentences slit, suckle, sense, susurrate, sing). Grass (gander, gaze, grab, grackle). Oh the things you can do! Meaningless, morbid possibilities.
To prove – ? What? – “I” hear? “I” touch? “I” see? Taste? Feel? Encounter? Interrupt? Intrude? Act with and upon? To what purpose?
Proof of possibility? Infinite (unknown) potentials? What do “I,” am “I,” wanting?
“Desire” I wrote (instrumentalized) earlier. Ha. A word. An action. [I have a porous body]. “I” (what I call) “love.”
In other words, this was the day K hobbled away. You wouldn’t understand. [meanings].
I’ve written other words, even what might be called “assemblages” (markings in accord with other ‘possibilities’…infinitely (?) variable).
In other words… the spread of the tree. This one sends its branches this way into the world… (porous)… this one yearns vertically… these at certain angles… sentences… reactions…
I am thankful for Kansas… for sex… for her… for elsewhere…
For Pakistan. Where she first appeared… from California… I “love.”
It’s, she’s, notable. Noteworthy. I mark them.
The refrain: I love. I have loved. I will. [“desire”]
“I” say “yes”
Yes, M. Yes D. Yes A, T, H, H, J, M, T, J, M, J, S, R, R, R… yes almost anyone almost anywhere… yes.
Let us try this out: language. Touch. “Yesterday.”
And something becomes. The unknown (unknkowable?) – K’s infinities paralleled and interwoven. What is liminal.
The liquid between every book on my shelves, every line, the air and its waves, the light and hard matter. [porous].
G, D, K, M, Lispector… what do we see? Le spectre. The specter. What we see. What can (not) be seen.
The visible and the touchable – “the Prose of this World.”
Trees sprout branches slantwise.
And there… the name “Steiner.” A Viking. A Spartan. A Cherokee. And there is “rain” (we call it). And I: love. And that can be its own end. The German. The Thai. The Nubian. Each native as The World Goes On in The Physics of Sorrow… selected, selected, selected…
A gold, glaring like sunlight, like foil paper,
glints out of the hands, gathered to plead,
like tears with their measure of salt, gleaming
an eye, like the viscous reflecting residue
of pleasure – piss, blood, the living sweats
and leaks, we run, we water the dying.
You there. You. There.
Far cries (moans, wails, echoes) from here.
You here. You. Here.
Murmurs, whispers, gasps, and laughter.
Breath upon an ear.
Blue radiance from the heart, red running out the vein.
The wheeze that squelches exhale.
Stuttered stumble – each mistake…the trial being
to sketch, to trace, erase.
Once we waved at one another.
Each goodbye a beckon.
And all digress.
Too often, once more… for Thucydides…
Feathers, flowers, for Filbert,
little donkey he must be,
ass-braying poems – silt and muck of muddle,
collecting stones and eyes and sunsets,
almost any gaze. Almost an acknowledgment.
To be. For. Anyonething. Anywhere.
Once necessary. Once.
And then more…
Somewhere day arrives.
We are in bed.
Day neither comes nor goes.
We inhabit a single chair.
A reciprocal rebellion.
that undoes the you, the me,
joining any separation
along with bodies of skin,
without one, another
within, without each –
a combinatory beast
where components are absent,
birdcalls and signals
dependent on immanent surrounds;
anything in their crafty work
Eriegnis, evental –
a pleasure and desire
without priors –
echoed and originary;
we sometimes describe
(this is the last thing I find I’ve had time to attempt in writing for many weeks…)
after Bataille, Of Montreal
It began. It begins.
What opens what humans call ‘the heart.’
Who is the author?
In the loss. Lessness.
What is…always expressed / exposed by what
CAN be taken…
What is stripped back, laid bare, stolen,
Then you know.
Both ‘you’ and a very strange sort of ‘knowing.’
that place, space, moment, experience:
A mad undoing.
A ‘one’ coupled by LOVE-HATE (possible ferocities)
– angry peace –
– gentle tearing –
Avarice. Grace. Hunger. Gifts.
We get born.
We most certainly die.
(even if we never learn what ‘being born’ or ‘to die’ might be / mean)
Damage: how we…die with/it
: how we…end in it
We most certainly die.
This we know [somehow] without experiencing it.
Or even being able…
(Regardless – truly regard-less)
of anything IN-between
I AM ALL WAYS DYING MY DEATH
(what might ‘living one’s life’ seem?)
I happen to be singing imagined limits
(All I do not know)
Questions and conundrums
Ends and means:
-easily a kind of glory…
BIRTH (whatever could be meant by that) = DEATH. DECAY.
(It began. It begins).
-What opens, happens, what humans call ‘the heart.’
We most certainly die.
- Hello cancer
- Hello age
- Hello war and disease
- Welcome other
- Fact, fiction
- Truth, theory
- “Hello, human!”
(The wonder : : : : something is born)
in order to…
Irascible, inevitable, indivisible, ineradicable ends.
If ‘winning’ could ever look like that, this…
once its begun, it began, it begins…
…endings, ends, the end.
– always already there –
always already here
“between appear and disappear”
The world is a weighted haunting –
– some complex surround –
to be dreamt and/or measured, and felt
I amended the ‘haunting’ to be –
not the thick and illegible “world,”
but the compulsion of ‘figuring-out’ –
the ‘figuring out,’
an ‘haunting’ is ghost –
and only just happens:
Within which is conceived a convergence –
– event –
(some humanish word for ‘what’s happened’).
This ‘we’ –
what is it?
what part does it play
in the muddle?
And ‘what happens’ –
multiply in the mess –
as you feel it
and think it
and be –
how it wholly
I am performing a task for my employer. I am writing a professional letter. I am letting you know that I labor. I am here to be useful, and used. I submit. My actions indicate that I accept structure and system as representative of survival. I will do what you ask. I recognize organization as power. In fact, any kind of organizing indicates a position of imaginative power and control. To differentiate, to specify, to label, name, assign – all are a fiat of power and authority or authorship – a claiming of superiority over things named, situated, recognized. Supposedly if I comply dutifully – bow and behave in ways that signify structure as something larger (or more important) than me – I will have internet access, some food, air-conditioning, coverings, a car, and someplace to live (in certain mountainous areas, none of these are beneficial). “Teamwork” is misnomer.
My philosophy is simple:
- The mind or brain is an intermittent trickle of the rivers of the body which are hardly discernible in the waves of the world.
- “I” am No one, Nowhere, which is to say Everyone, right Here. A poet wrote of presenting his face as a smashed window baring open sky – I thought that was me – No one Nowhere = Everyone right Here (whenever/wherever that happens to be).
- Experience is what happens. What happens is what is. If criticized as “for us” (whichever ‘experiencer’) I ask – what else could it be?
- Knowing limits. If “for-this” is all my experience can be, then those are my limits. Once I sense my limits I can attempt to challenge, question, and extend them, for alternate experiencing.
- Ideas/Thoughts/Concepts/Theories [abstractions/imaginings] (like structure, perception, systems, organization, self, number, truth, etc.) are compelling because the limits of their effects are unknown to us. Ideas (ideologies) allow us to ‘experience’ power and control and compliance of the world around us (apparently), even though the dripping-trickle-stream-river-ocean of our limited participation in world flows always and is unalterably changing and miniscule. Bodies die. Each every/no-one where/when-ever.
- The propensity or lust for belief – in ‘observation,’ ‘experiment,’ ‘objectivity,’ ‘analysis,’ ‘deduction,’ ‘ideas,’ numbers or language or effects of imagined power and control (technicity) – are wishes against the body, against dying, against limitation, against what happens, anyway.
- Thoughts and effects do not make experience longer.
- Experience is living, is limited.
- Living is the extremely limited experience of dying.
Admitting or confessing that I exist to meet needs, that this is my employment, may be a Credo of Little Import. A submission of insignificance in accepting others’ systems, structures, and arbitrary claims to power. Compliance. Resignation. Complaisance. Dependence. [Co-dependence – opting out of experience/living exits the submission-religion].
My voice dribbles, a hardly perceptible microorganism in the ocean of world. My experience a parenthetical waving particle. My living its effective dying.
In a beginning that never began, the ending already comes.
World is an intermittent trickle of the rivers of living, barely and scarcely discerned.
We are Here Now, how would we like our fleet experiencing of dying to be?
“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.”
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‘.
- “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.”
Thank you mountains, rocks, growing things, streams….
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?
I believe I dream
as a doubt-drenched thinker
As long as we’re using language
for these –
what is our perception of love?
Between appear and disappear.
I found the following paper when cleaning up our dining room table to prepare for dinner:
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”
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…
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…