Again, that uncanny occurs. Someone stumbles upon some old composition or effort. Someone comments insightfully, provocatively, and I come into a new relation to what I had let into the world a decade ago. Thank you. Today, reviewing, I was struck by this piece from some other me some time past, and it felt resonant again, much later, as continuing me…
I always wondered at my naming – “Alias V.” Not knowing where I come from, and finding all locatable Harlequins tricky and at play.
“Alias Verbum” – who would name an infant that? Another name, a word. Also known as, logos. Usually I identify as iota subscript, after Robert Frost.
No one knows my origin, but he’s very hard to find, everywhere, continually on his odyssey.
i‘m reading a book entitled “How Words Make Things Happen.” What have we made? Ideas, spells; subjects, objects, and actions. Incantations all. Beginnings, I suppose, but not the first.
As I understand it, aging along, someone had to be there for me to come about, and coming-about would be my story. Who or what might tell it? Acted, sung, or read? Becoming other after other after other. Known again as… by any other name. The player. The trickster. The Joke.
In the beginning was… and I began, an alias of something… and everything its word.
I do not doubt that we are all capable of learning to freeze. Or starve to death, for that matter. Death will not be a stranger for any, for long.
There are reasons we are constituted in uncertainty.
We are able to learn.
It’s why I told her how much I trusted her. To change. And therefore never knew anything, asking so many questions, again and then again, about plans. Who knew when? or then? or now? I said. Things fluctuate as they die.
Or I never knew. Having so little to do with facts or truth, beliefs or trust. IS is always something else. Or here is always different. NOW has never been, in other words. Even if the words are the same.
And. So. On.
There is music. And recognition – recognizability – (memory?) – a passion for pattern, a shine to similar, a longing for location, locatability. For what it’s worth – a pronounced inaccuracy and pro-found nostalgia. As the ‘similar’ is founded on what’s been experienced before (pro-found), and at least less than (or more?) than present. Pre-sent? NOW was given / sent before? I doubt that… but feel wary that that’s all we’ll ever know, never quite catching up to being.
In another sense: the inherent lag of perception. How old (again, pre-supposedly) are the stars we ‘see’? Or the squirrel on yonder branch; your eyes across the table; our held hands… by the time they register?
What happens, “now”? And why are we occupied with what we call “next” when we can’t even exist at once’s occurring? Seeking a head start? A virtual or imagined pre-sent?
Yes I heard what you said…after you’d said it.
There’s our “now.”
The cut from stepping on glass… and then the pain… later.
The bite of food, licks of flesh, kisses… and then the tasting.
The breeze and then the leaf, light and then its outline. Mostly shadow.
“Hello,” I reply in turn, but your head already bowed and path resumed, on the far sidewalk.
I fall behind.
Suppose this is why, in conversation, ever losing our way in delay, we ask “where were we?” rather than “where are we?” What is it we wish to know? Where do we hope to be with one another?
As I was saying – with requisite gap between whatever may have been transpiring in my ‘mind’ (or whereverywhere thinking occurs) and the sludgy musculature, instruments, and carefully crafted formulation of alphabetic symbols to display attempts of communication or composures…
Where are the members to be re-stored, re-gathered, re-composed, or freshly constituted?
That pre-(before)-fix (secured, pinned, stayed) “re-“. To do over, again, re-peat. Peat is a furry humus, a difficult detangling. Nigh impossible to dismember without caveat or faith. Some belief in categories or divisions, de-cisions, parts and wholes, composites and particles, atoms, scales, cells, waves or functions… no longer “peat.” How would one forge that again?
Moist and messy tangle, eons into bog…
Thought “it” – “I”.
Peat. Re. Member(s).
Desire. (Mood? Emotion? “Drive”?).
Prompted to thicken. The caked, flaky, dry – toward some humid, muddy moor. A memory.
To re-member one must pre-fix. In order to carve members to append and rivet. Desiccate to gather. Continuous forgetting forging together. Organic? Decomposition’s ritard?
Where does one go for the matter of “parts”? Ingredients for concoction, for the rotten mixing and blend. A meaning dependent on decay.
What is it we spoil in re-membering?
Experiencing. Out of – perceiving – in to. Wherefrom, wherefore, this ‘out of’? And the in-to flows – ? The membering limn. The meeting-joints. The fields of grave. Are there objects? Is it obstacle? In-to-eruption? Happen-stance?
Vivisection for autopsy – our arbitrary blade. Figures cut. Marking the joins, indivisibly. Perception. To sieve-for. For what? For whom? In the mire.
Try to re-member without division.
Immersively, immanently, experiencing… without within, within without.
A man stumbles into a bar… (perhaps you’ve heard this one before)… truly more of a sauntering in seeming need of assistance… must be no stranger here, his drinks await him wherever he finds or chooses or results in sitting: a something-with-vodka, large glass of water, and occasionally a cup filled with coffee.
“You’re the one that always has books,” some say, “you some kind of writer or something?”
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he mumbles. “I’m always tired, I feel ugly and old, I don’t like my body but don’t desire doing anything about it, perhaps I should, I’m sure to lose it someday…” (he isn’t talking to anyone). “Thank you, always, you’re ever so kind,” he says.
He says “My children seem to remember me,” shifting in his chair as if to leave, or relocate tables, “my children they seem to remember, and they hurt me, they have hurt me, my body hurts, mostly in sport, and what they do and don’t remember.” He opens a book, looks as if he’s reading, another round of drinks appears.
He writes and marks in many colors. He is dirty. He wears overalls and moccasins. He never seems cold. It is cold.
“I decided to shower today,” he mutters. “Some ladies still talk to me,” something-and-vodka drips through his beard, “some will even hug or hold me yet, even this way” (patting his belly, grimacing) “I guess I didn’t like my smell or simply thought it might change me, it’s awful hard to be alone with my body.” He moves, his drinks are waiting at another table, both fresh fills and half-drunks, and a sandwich of some kind. The cook passes and pats him on the shoulder, smiles, asks of how he’s doing. They hug. The man praises him and his eyes are moist. The man isn’t anyone in particular. He isn’t anyone.
“What you doing with all those books?” she asks, he thinks. Pretends that someone’s interested. “Not the young ones much anymore,” he says, “they are needing something else, they can tell I’m aged and tired, carrying the trouble of experiences, but a few, a few older ones will let me hug them, touch, perhaps a kiss, perhaps an accidental overnight, that strange collapse.”
“I have them to read,” he replies, “there’s always more to read,” he whimpers, “so much, so many, to read,” he sighs and smiles like a boy receiving toys, “if only people, my children, if, if they felt read this way by me, some women, some wonderful women, if I could delve, could attend, if others felt read this way, these books, I love them, I love and need them, their words, I love and need and want them…if others felt that way, I’d like to feel that way – loved, wanted, needed… sometimes my children…”
“Another?” she says so warmly with her tight and fast-moving body, lithe and breasted, friendly with its clothes. She has a fresh vodka-with-something, he says “no I shouldn’t, but sure, I guess, you’re so kind to me, why not? I will, yes” (wanting, loving, needing.. books scattered over the tabletop, all closed). He drinks.
“My children, my friends – so smart, so beautiful, with verve… so helpful… I did shower today,” he thinks, “maybe I’ll be useful to one or some of them, but probably not, what could they need or want of me,” he drinks. “Not the young ones, though, not anymore,” he thinks, “what could I offer – these worn experiences, these words and doubts, these lacks of memories, confusions, waking dreams, these wonders.”
“You’ll need to go soon,” she chides, “you can’t be staying here.” “But he’s the writer,” a boisterous drinker shouts, “he oughta tell a story, oughta earn his keep!” Drunk old friendly at two in the morning (bar time – it’s actually 1:35).
“Tell us something,” they gather, they prompt. “Say some of those words,” they prod.
So he opens his notebook and begins to write…
“…the contradiction which awaits the writer is great. There is no mission, he cannot undertake it and nobody has sent him on it, that is to say he will have to become nobody to accept it; a contradiction which he cannot survive. That is why no writer can hope to preserve his life’s freedom for the benefit of the work… everything takes place between the artist and himself; no one else can do anything about it; it is a mystery like love that no extraneous authority may judge or understand.”
To swirl. There. He said it, stated intention, directly. To be lost, languishing (anguish is in there), full of lose and seeking, squirming, rutting, snuffling about. Scent search of what? Or not what quite, but how, now? The unknowable, uncertain, which lies beyond perhaps, inaccessible, indeterminate, resistant to decipher, discretion, or decode. He plies. Ruin of movement, beyond conceit and loosely bound, tearing terror of graspage. An infinity of words, or if not, many disordered magnitudes more compossibly complex than he –wrecked in kind with troubles of time, reductions of selection. What means, all knotted in already-known. A scumble then, without, arms treading, legs a-flutter, cognition confused in the mass, mess, unaccommodated, arranged re-arranging, affective and effecting, assaying never fully, nor enough, insufficient temporals and scope, shortfall of finitude, unbecoming, irrealized, incomputable surround. To swirl or swoon perhaps – intends eccentric excentricity, without with-in, within outside and othering. Immersed, submerged, tumbling almost-struggle, almost-drift, thoroughfare and passaging, limning swaths of runnels, channels, margins. Copiously coping, how would he go? What are the motions lesser than stir and more absorptive? And what of the when? Who now, where now, how when? Confusion, then – confusion, swooning and swirl. A wriggling receipt, some commingling transference transmitting, attention intending undoing, origins ever receding, irremediable in rot and excess, dismembered invention – begin – excise and evince, glide of erasure and uncover, indiscernible activity of process, waving particles, particular waves, currents and tropes, passively permeable patterning passageways [not that!] imperceptible part-i-cipatory breakage and shatter, dispersion deconstructing refusal. He ruins, inevitably. That stands – there. Unworking integration every angle or approach, from inside, decay, a desiccate and undone doing. Mismade by allowance, a scribbling palimpsest or correction – be cognized, be written, be spoken, transcribed – he wails into unruly, disruptive, erupting fluid floodings of voiding, of nothing. Not afloat, asail, aswim. Neither drowning nor submerged. Nearly saturate with swallow and exhale, a lineament on empty, some faulty trace.
[from a crumpled writing found under a car seat among additional trash, transposed to typing as a record of a mind’s mayhem and mistakes]
“Deliver me, prays the haunted man. Therefore…”
Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal
I am Dostoevsky and I am Beckett. I am Hegel and Heidegger and Holderlin. I am Kafka.
I am not good enough for any of you. I do not merit your time nor your attention, affection, sensibilities, your human talents, or your care… no conceivable reason to mention “love.”
But I love you. I am the one who loves you. The one who writes. Who writes these words. The haunted one, the Reader, the Librarian; the Lover, Scholar, I am me. I love you. I am haunted. Words runnel through me, and with them thoughts, and with them feelings, and with them meanings, which means…nothing. No matter, no space, no time.
The “haunted man” is a passage, a passing, a ‘type.’ Of no import, little reality, barely occurrence.
I am Blanchot, am Homer, am divine Scriptures, and Shakespeare. Simply, small-ly, in my own way, this very general way, I am what humans do with language. For one another, with one another, to one another, as.
Yards and houses, flesh and voices, signs and symbols, marks and sounds, music and rhythyms and gestures, as attempts to conjoin – join and connect – survive, discover, endure, be, become, in-volve… With no idea. Or ideas that continually prove false and faulty. Elaborate records of revision, perhaps better inscribed as simple songs of effort. Urges only TO BE, and that, TO BE CONNECTED.
But what do I know? I’m Pythagoras, call me Ishmael or Ahab, Everyman or Whatever. I’m out-dated. Assign me a number. I don’t really care. I really care. I am here, and I, (at least) re-present, or present again, or presence, a sort of being. Such as it is… with no “REAL” way to evaluate, estimate, “tell,” or “express.”
Satan, then, Jesus, Joyce, Proust, Alexander. No matter, no space, no time, only IS.
A “tradition” (as it were, in our own words). We. Its + That + This. US. Humans strangely (apparently) in environments. These ways of thinking, of being, of behaving and operating, of supposedly surviving (but with what evidence? WHO or WHAT might know?).
How might elements arranged thus & so, survive? I am Nebuchadnezzar, Mohammed, Hammurabi and Ishtar. I am ab-original.
I am Nothing. Everything. No one. Me.
Each press of the pen: “Hello – ‘here’”
As simply as I can construct it (all of it, any of “it”) it goes something like this: accidents occur, accidents are weird, and accidents give way.
I, like all other(s), an accidental novel. Occasional and Whatever.
WHAT HAPPENS TO BE… at any given point-of-measurement (i.e. as far as we have a capacity to render, sunder, and effect – “Reality” (for us)). Some quirky, unlikely, ridiculous, painstaking, odds-massively-against, and over-dramatic assessment of a certain sort of being-in, being-with, co-occurrence, happen-stance, we fabricate “human.”
In many other words (for the sake or ability of ‘them,’ ‘it,’ ‘all’) I may as well be. Be Hallie or Ollie or Aidan or Rhesus. Chief Joseph or Samson or Ghandi or Jordan. Be you or Sara or Maya or Jimmy John.
“no matter. Try again. Fail again…” no matter.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
“the venom of the serpents were within him”
Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal
HOW SHOULD I KNOW?
And so what if I were Bernhard or Bach, Napoleon, Attila, Montaigne or Dorothy Parker? If I had the ammunition or energy (and weaponry?) – the rhetoric, the nerve, or the madness. L. Sterne, Nagarjuna, Hafiz, JL Borges?
“No matter. Try again. Fail again…”
Titian, Beethoven, Plato/Socrates, Palestrina. Michelangelo, V. van Gogh, and Chuang Tzu. You.
“Cat litter,” the last thing said, and something about that abandoned bicycle, a child’s bike, deep red, repainted, left askew on their lawn for days.
Those were the last things. The last things she said. And so he’d begun to move about much more carefully. Timidly some might say, an amalgam of caution and care. Ever tender, aware that things break, or tear, spill, or fall apart. End.
But then Laramie, his sister, mother, the kids – some entities seem to persist, so few and so stubborn, inexplicably, threatening almost, as if an accumulating disaster, an heavier withdrawal. He doesn’t know what to make of it.
Abandonment crushes all scales and statistics – but pebbles and dust, foundations and roots still remain. Persistent. Resilient. Irrational.
Like a sloth he repaired to his desk, as delicate and slow. He took up a pen with his head in his hand. He was lonely, alone but for quiet, sweet silence, and branches and birdsong and wind, autos and dogs. Not quite quiet. Not quite alone. But abandoned, far as he could surmise.
He wrote. Rather drew. Looping lines that were shaky on paper. Tried to make his operation more smooth. It failed. He shakes now, does Alias, from drinking and smoking, aging and grief. From perspective. His perspective.
A rattling undone, an erosion. He sighs.
A bike, and “cat litter,” then gone. Others had left for much more and much less. Litanies of reasons of wrongs are so easy with humans involved, never mind the ‘weight of the good.’ Can’t compete. Won’t compute. There are mistakes, and effort involved – both are failures, no matter the theories or talk, no matter their universality. He was wrong and a failure, which equals abandon no matter the words they produced.
Alas, Alias. A depression. An outlook that colors the field, but it’s charcoal. No matter the ‘whom’ it will bleed, run them dry, and disfigure. No one’s withstood it for long, for all of his kindness and passion (devised to distract from the swallowing dark, or the primer – his base coat is death). He’s alone.
Not a Laramie, mother, or kin. Without doubt there’s no lover, no friend. Just a man and his books and incessant grey thoughts, and a pen.
He begins, looping lines…forming “Cat litter,” the last thing she said…
Dostoevsky, Giacometti, Kafka, Lispector, Cixous, Blanchot, Nietzsche, Jabes, Beckett, Wm. James, CS Peirce, Lorca, Wittgenstein, Rilke, Pessoa, Schiele, DF Wallace, Kozelek, Musil, Fernandez…and those lying in wait: This Will Destroy You, Vila-Matas, Marcus…Harlequin has inscribed in his flesh.
Might be useful to make a story.
The way things are – with everything falling apart, coming undone, wearing down or out, dwindling in function – calls for such measures – i.e. fitted to new purposes, given new life, repurposed, renamed, remixed, restored.
Making lists against memory. Visiting / revisit. Trying.
It’s coming apart.
He’s worked long in this manner.
Something breaks or dies, goes defunct…fix it with change.
Washing machine, body parts, relationships, parents. Tools or appliances, activities and paths… rather than forcing some obedience to its past or presence – alter the context (as large as it needs to be – micro to macro) round about it, until its usefulness is assuaged or established, regained or reconstructed. Until it makes sense – AS-IS-NOW.
“Presently” includes all of above. His body – losing ‘shape,’ gaining aches, kinks, and torsions; doorways and windows, paint and light fixtures; machines and vehicles grinding down – leaking, cracking, and broken; dwindling desires of his partner; increased independence and mystery of his offspring…nothing quite capable of ‘control.’ Employer threats of performance and reviews; family tensions of politicized faiths; stamina shot as both parent and friend; patient lover and male…
…all it requires a new mythology – some new scaffolding – structure and content and aim.
What story is. What languaging is for. Imagine – abstraction and dream. What neuroses. Subject and author and plot. Continuous revision – the edit and pulp and rewind. We cut and paste and press ‘new.’ File, document, folder, image: LIFE.
There is story and language and code. Writing and saying and message. Harlequin’s not the first to say “I think by writing” and perhaps he will not be the last. Some perspective invented, some objective fabrication, some construction of a feeling of reflection, recount. Grappling after what is getting lost. A dream that a ruling, an external, can be seen or encountered, manipulated and tested. If an accounting exists, there is material (reality) AGENCY to work WITH, THROUGH and ON.
Harlequin forms words.
Yet there are none that he ‘makes’ – just borrows, revises. Uses, shapes, and arranges. Gives place. Inscribes in some ancient tradition – it’s “writing” – using marking or code in conventions. Absorbing idiosyncracies into generalities. Depending on a community that shares such signs – can lend, agree, and interpret. It’s fragile. Insecure and uncertain. There’s no meaning. Like the earth – writing just IS. To be taken and changed, charged and made and appropriated. Dis-card-ed.
What was a ‘card’ but token carrying message or code? In-formation – letters arranged. Who knew – and why – and how? Doesn’t matter. Undone. Broken and over and through. Electronic currency now – if this you can even decipher (decode).
Letters, stories, and language. Harlequin marks on a page – sets of signals. The cells, the emotions, the organs – signals and signs. Tired and old and afraid – always dying. Since day one, always dying – fearfully. How It Is. He remembers and prays (in a way) – a communication with the dead – mediated – to the Beckett, the Kafka, the Dostoevsky. David Foster Wallace, Hegel and Marx. Maybe Nietzsche, Deleuze or Blanchot. And the ladies: Lispector, Cixous and Dickinson. Doesn’t matter. For Harlequin, all a part of the same realization – it comes, it ages, it goes, and it’s gone. Human living. Human life. Just what is: How It Is.
Labor, relation, and trial. What is being? Labor, relation, and trial.
He succumbs. Is succumbing. Is tearing apart.
A story makes of it what it will.
You can have your knowledge – facts or theories, experiences and concepts – but the stories reason and resemble them. Lend them ambiguity and occasional senses. Possibilities.
Perchance they go together like this. Or like that. Or another way. Stories. Sanity. Something.
Something becoming – a linked set of symbols in an ecological order. Stories try experience on for fittings. Until it fits. Until it tatters, or is otherwise overused or outgrown.
Becomings and undoings. Compositions and deletes. All the edits (on the fly). Survival.
today, searching for paper to make notes on for work…I grabbed a used “ruled writing tablet” of mine, last written in in 2014…and read…
“I am an educated writer who loves a lot of things. I love language, I love learning, I love relationships – to partners, children, nature, arts, literature, and ideas – to “world.” I love to study.
By “love” I mean that I choose and enjoy expending my available energy on these things.
I like very much to reflect and consider, experiment with and actualize what seems meaningful for living as a human individual.
That is what I know of myself, besides the facts which are unruly, shifting and so very difficult to capture or recount with accuracy. All the terms (‘born,’ ‘lived,’ ‘married,’ ‘completed,’ ‘received,’ ‘produced,’ ’employment,’ ‘accomplishments,’ ‘age,’) and their explications are far to vague to be useful here.”