Let Me Get This Out of Your Way

Intriguing stumble-upon.  Clearing an old flash drive for my daughter I ran across this – texts from my first and only public reading – featuring art by George Ferrandi and Laura Barbuto, which occurred in an interactive reading space with many assistants and much assistance a couple years ago.  Seemed like it belonged in this space.


  1. Sitting at table amid a narrative hum. No one speaks.

“Getting it Out of the Way: A Response”

(texts by Nathan Filbert; art/images Laura Barbuto/George Ferrandi)


Interconnection and Autonomy

a personal note

I have long disliked and had an intense aversion to telephone calls.  Like televisions transmitting in shared or public spaces, they present inescapable interruption and intrusion.  One could be in thought, repose, intimacy, conversation, activity — in fact, whatever one is about when one is not on the telephone – and then suddenly must react to a demand.  A call.  But WHO is calling?  WHY?  Why now?  When my attention is demanded through interruption or intrusion, my body anticipates emergency.

Disembodied conversation shifts the burden of dialogue to the voice.  Therefore the natural indicators for “I’m thinking…” or “give me a moment,” nods, smiles, frowns or gestures that flow in face-to-face interaction, offering wholistic responses, are all pressured onto the mind and voice – forcing incessant reports and the trickiness and difficulty of translating bodily experience into language.  I require time to listen, consider, and respond.  Movement.  Silence.  Whether it’s a simple invitation, business matter, question or request – it always emerges as demand on the telephone.  Respond to this NOW.  (public or shared-space televisions – SEE this NOW).  You cannot escape, select, regulate or direct such importunities.

Global Communication Technologies, – our networks, internetworks and their myriad machines and devices – have provided some enormous benefits toward expanding our social lives outside of limited demographics and cultures, opening realms of activities and artifacts, information and resources that in any other time-period we may never have known about or encountered.  As these technologies proliferate into internets of thingsubiquitous (or pervasive / invasive) computing, and manifest the inherently linked realities of our world…simultaneously providing ambient findability (all of these terms and phrases as easily interpreted as violence or intrusion as well as opportunities or boon).

I’ve long preferred face-to-face interaction (in spare doses, they are taxing & rewarding) and textual communications (obviously, but also texting, emails, postal correspondence), because in the F2F we are offered and allowed appropriate cues to follow and respond to one another, and in textual discourse we are allowed the time and distance to craft and dictate our translations of experience, messaging intentions, and terminological tones.

Of late, however, I have noted a convergence of Call-Anxiety and Pervasive-Communications.  And am wondering about our levels of autonomy (if there even is such a thing for the human) or self-direction, any amount of governance we might preserve over our lives and activities and choices in a world populated with linked devices?

How much of our days – work time, supposedly “personal”/private time, play time, labor time, interpersonal time, family time, meal-times, chore-times, reading times, creative times, necessity times, and so on…- are steered and directed, controlled and dictated by the consistent, persistent, pervasive and invasive thoroughfare of MESSAGES from OUTSIDE?  If we consult our devices upon waking – how often are that day’s events passively designed around what we receive?  If we respond to text vibrations / updates / posts / SMS or IMs / emails – how much are they eroding self-governance and discipline or choice and instead simply ANNOUNCING (demanding?) direction and response?

How many swerves do we make in our causeways of living by our over-saturation with “friends,” our communicative reach far beyond our communities, our global information system versus our local work offices or families or few (actual) friends?  There have been plenty of studies from nearly every field of inquiry reporting that our safe or thrivable social capacities are quite limited – most studies indicate humans do best in consistent contact with 30 or less others.  Proffering sufficient opportunities to know, understand, interact and relate.  Yet any given Facebooker or tweeter or snappy-chatter may have exponentially larger engagements nearly every minute of their lives.

How different would my relationships with co-workers,  children, family, friends, BE if we weren’t including thousands of others in remote places, professional connections throughout the world, images and language and emotional reports and happenstances flooding like telephone calls and tele-visions and noise into our domains, habitats, domiciles, studies?  What might i NOT buy if it weren’t so easy?  How differently might I know books, movies, music, animals, persons – if they weren’t in virtually infinite supply?Do we preserve moments of choice and connection, safe from Call-demands or Pervasive/Invasive-communication-technologies?  Or do we simply escape or take breaks from time to time?  Going for a walk or having a dinner, camping, hiking or traveling once in a while without our devices?  What would it be like to lose them?  What would we know?  What kinds of knowing would we produce?  What sorts of makings?   What might be drawn or composed, felt or engaged, seen or heard if we were DISconnected to the hive of activity and input? How might we relate to those around us?  Where might we go?  Who might we be?

Well, that’s what I’m thinking about.  Pondering.  Wondering.  Queries of value and quality and meaning.  Stress-levels, anxiety, physical wear of being “on alert,” alarm, reactive, responsive to ubiquitous “Calls.”  Demands.  Invasions.

What if we saved intrusions for emergencies?  Took time to send only specific, relational-oriented, relevant and appropriate information to one another?  Thought critically?  Reflected?  Looked, touched, listened, and managed more wholistic presence with our immediate surrounds?

I don’t know.  I’m just wondering.

[The lucky piece for us at present is that, like pulling the phone line from the wall, our technologies are remarkably easy to dismantle and turn OFF, should we CHOOSE to]

The Need for Help

“I am affected not just by this one other or a set of others, but by a world in which humans, institutions, and organic and inorganic processes all impress themselves upon this me who is, at the outset, susceptible in ways that are radically involuntary.  The condition of the possibility of my exploitation presupposes that I am a being in need of support, dependent, given over to an infrastructural world in order to act, requiring an emotional infrastructure to survive.  I am not only already in the hands of someone else before I start to work with my own hands, but I am also, as it were, in the ‘hands’ of institutions, discourses, environments, including technologies and life processes, handled by an organic and inorganic object field that exceeds the human”

  • – Judith Butler –

Howitis - Beckett


He cried, it cried, I cried.  But help, it will not come, for me.  And why should it?  Who could owe me assistance, and why?  And what would it benefit another? Even how might the crying become?  Often silent, unheard; a gesture or tone; a constant “I am unable to do this alone.”  There’s no reason.  No reason that someone might help me.

Help has come.  Many times, and that greatly.  Otherwise I would not be alive.  Irrational, inconceivable, as ‘last measure,’ – the cry’s been expressed, even shouted or posted: “I need help or we will not survive!”  And it’s come.  Never “I.”  The yelp always weighted with “we.”  In deep over my head as a man, as a father, a worker and thinker as well – always “help!?”  Needing contact or touch or attention.  Needing hearing or care or advice.  Needing teaching, protection, support.  Needing money or sitters or transport.  Needing food.  Needing shelter.  Such needs.

I need help.  “I.”

Whatever effects or affects, I believe that I do try to help.  To have food for my children, and beds.  To respond to emotional traumas, disturbs – to hear and attend and comply.  To love others embodied and minded.  Within (my) reason, I do what I can to assist, especially those gathered about me.  I experience my’self’ as RESPONSE-able – once engaged there’s a sense that I must.  Some say that we choose to do good – but I question.  Many insist we always have  choice, yet I seem unable to abandon or neglect, unless, perhaps, my “self” or theoretically.  I am prone to the “people are people” – shaped by time and engagements – to behave in the world as they are, and continue the way that they be (in small measure).  The issues of scale and of time.  We do what we can to survive.  Some prone to survival of others, some not.  Depends on the value of “self,” so it seems.  I help, which develops that value (I hope).  To think I might matter, be dependable/depended on, be important – to someone, somewhere, at some time. Survive.

And I notice myself ever howling for help.  Help!?   As I age, I distinguish the needs.  Need for contact and talk – to think and to feel; needing help with evolving demands.  “Man,” “parent,” “student,” “professional,” – all extensions of what I once was – just a “human.”  I can’t even survive being that, let alone all these complex designations.  Artificial “helps” like alcohol or nicotine, religious belief or “self-help” seem to do as much harm as relief.  As babies and aged we are weakened…our “primes” occasioned by a nexus of supports.  In our weakness, we comprehend need(s).

I need.  “Help!?”

Without knowing what it is or might look like.  I know that I’m drowning.  I age.  I know no one owes it, the benefits would have to be rationalized.  I fail.  I can’t go on.  I must go on.  I go on.


You must go on, that’s all I know. 

            They’re going to stop, I know that well:  I can feel it.  They’re going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts?  It will be I? 

            You must go on. 

            I can’t go on.          

            You must go on. 

            I’ll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any – until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it’s done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.) 

            It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don’t know, I’ll never know: in the silence you don’t know. 

            You must go on.          

            I can’t go on. 

            I’ll go on.

–Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable


from the Ruled Writing Tablet

ruled writing tablet


Suffice it to say, I’m not much into “proofs” – in language or tone.  Suspect I can’t believe them.  I won’t be able to prove there’s an interstice – I know that.  Won’t even attempt ‘within reason.’ Suggest.

There’s no “let me explain.”

– “Explain what?” she inquires, “exactly.”

Exactly the point, I would say, or nearly precise – that there isn’t.  I don’t know.  But it seems we converge – in some tiny remarkable space within time (or vice-versa) we’re dismissed.  Or not-missed – how to say it?

There’s a meeting.  It seems.  In a margin or more.


Our hallways (think architecture?) overlap?

I don’t know.  I’m just saying, in hopes to be, to look at you longer.  Longer.  It’s a fight against death, that small word.  Simply, longer.  With you.


Am I clear?  Making any sense?  I don’t know.

– “Clear as mud, what you’re saying,” she says “near ‘exactly.’”

I don’t know.  It’s unwise.

And I hum when the words sound just so.

– “Just so, how, exactly?” she asks.

Interaction.  Locution.  Between (I am thinking).

“Interstitial,” I say.  Interstitially?  How could I know.  It’s all susceptible to the mark.  The mark of the question.  I think of changing my own name.  Have before.  I like titles.  It was “Mark” for the question, the sign, and its music.  I would be Mark, Remarking.  The one with the curlicue brand, like the Zorro but curved with a point…on everything = ?

“My point exactly,” I tell her (she stays) – leaving my mark.  (If she’ll stay, I’ll rescind, anything).


It’s okay.  I’m familiar.  Not that you worried.  There’s no worries, it’s all temporarily temporary – both state and enaction.  It’s just so (so it seems).  “Just-So Stories” he wrote, long ago, they’re alike and akin, episodic.  We describe.

Neither here and/nor there.  Interstitial.  In-between.  What I wanted to tell her, to say.  And I would have, had I known.

– “Known what, exactly?” she once said, and I stopped, for the meaning was lost, nonexistent.  Just so.

“That’s just how it is” I had said.  And don’t know, was surmising.  The world hypothetical and inspired ( I thought, at the time ) – simply possible.  I was wrong (perhaps).  But she stayed (temporarily).  The words lose their meanings.


I hum.  To myself.


I write: “This is what I wanted to do.”

Eros – acorn/oak – Identity – Desire

It occurs to me.  Occurs to me that vocation / personal / public / private / occupation / romance / family / profession are not separate elements of some proposed “self” I might emerge with in day-to-day interactions / responsibilities / obligations / choices, but rather tangled and woven threads of the unitary multiplicity (singular-plural) that is “me”, or some continuously occurring/re-curring cursive/re-cursive individuated co-construction of living human life in the world.

So that: when I compose an essay, poem, article, research, letter, note, list, diary entry, story, etc…I am not precisely operative as one or another individuated-circumstance of my “self”, but rather a that oneindividuated occurrence/happening/event – evincing/emerging via this vehicle/form/instance in this case.

Composing a letter to my beloved today, I found “I” was also addressing my own feeling for the circumstances of my living, perception and reflection of my beliefs and attitudes within it, and aims or desires associated with my experience.  So I make it an “open letter” – a public enunciation – of my experience being such-that-I-am.


I love you, Hallie.

I love you in ways that are very difficult for me to express.


Each aspect, experience, element of my reality – loving you/relation with you – always seems just out of reach of conveying, communicating.  Beyond.


My appreciation, joy, anticipation, lust, desire, want, ache, gratitude, reception, pleasure, pain, fear, confidence, courage, adventure, dread, need, fondness, appreciation, hurt, etc… all seem diminished by, or unequal to, somehow MISSED, INACCURATE to my attempts at expressing, representing, sharing…


Wishes, dreams, philosophy and poetry all live in this realm: ruled by the “well, NOT like THAT!”  Or…always followed by a “what I MEAN is…”


Ambiguity, inexactitude, shortcoming, outstripping, seemingly hopeless and impossible – yet ALWAYS generating hope, desire, energy in the STRIVING and BELIEF.


Hopes, wishes, illusions, truth, reality, dreams, love, art, religion… all seem to depend on this strange commerce of energy.


discovered negatively, or via an absence or lack…Utopia – we only ever KNOW that “utopia”, “paradise”, is a sensed “longing”, a KNOWING-THAT-THIS-IS-NOT-IT.


Perfection.  If perfection is experienced (instances of ecstasy? Joy?) we appear unable to express/share/tell it!


Utopia, perfection, hope and desire – are each revealed by their “lack” or “absence” – their “NOT-IS”


Everything “ultimate”, “perfect”, “totalizing”, “whole” or “outstanding” we experience as UNIQUE, DIFFERENT, distinct and incapable of analogy or metaphor.

UNLIKE.  We know it negatively, according to what-it-is-not, and feel it positively – as something unprecedented, unexpected, novel, unique.  Anything comparable we realize – IT IS NOT THAT.  It is unknown, incomparable, we recognize it by it NOT being ANYthing else we have experienced – or only partially, tangentially, and contrastively (negatively)



Which leaves us, then, in a realm unspeakable, unreferenceable, undrawable – a pure IS realm.


You, my beloved, ARE.  And ARE the occurrence or happening, the experience of, the REALITY (signified, significant) of a realm, experience, event, relation that is EXPERIENCABLE but not EXPRESSIBLE.


An exquisite sort of heartache for one devoted to the crafts of “expressing the inexpressible”, “saying the unsayable”, and so on.


Philosophy, poetry, hopes, dreams – ALL draw their CONTENT from what we KNOW “it” is NOT.  Attempt to use action, behavior, language, movement, thought and speech to draft original arrangements that might allow the unspeakably unique, unsayably novel, incomparably total or inexpressibly replete –

into the realm of expression, sayability, hint, token, trace, Reality, occurrence, activity, appearance or happening…

 and yet it is defiant, recalcitrant, resistant and intractable.


You provide me a life of exertion and effort, a LIVING of ATTEMPT – impossible possibilities – or their interaction – irretrievable, unrepresentable happenings and events, experiences


BEYOND…full, total, whole Real Experiences…



NEED for a mad trust in Reality that never equals recognition, cognition, reflection or thought.  Intransigent to language – ever DOES NOT EQUAL,

and THAT is how we know it –


that it is Beyond-experience experiencing

Beyond-saying expressibility

Beyond-comparison analogy & metaphor




You ARE.


It is amazing to/for me.  Unsettling, novel, inexpressible, unrepeatable, impossibly in-possible,

something total, whole and real

in ways that action / language / emotion and response can never be.


Such is my lot.  Happily?  Momentarily joyous, ecstatic, HOPE-fully…

so much “better” than all it readily-apparently is NOT.


And why I seek/work into poetics, philosophy, wishes and dreams…where experiencing surpasses expressibility…Reality surpasses its processing…love its ability to confess…

I love you beyond-this.

In some other-ing language.

I am.  Yours.


Hallie thrift Love

p.s.  this is also a reason that these forms (philosophy, poetry, art, dreams, etc.) often read as “nonsense” or irrational – each an effort at translating totalities of experience versus “rational” expression or analogical/metaphorical transcriptions of experience.  Dreams combinate Reality…converge and reproduce whole happenings as “veritable” mash-ups; philosophy and poetry ache to stretch language affordances, or mate expressibility to totality…quite possibly irrational, even an impossible urge, but compulsive/erotic/desirous and humanly nature-al nonetheless.

In other words – if you “know what we mean” without knowing the meanings…we are coming nearer “it.”



Forced to engagement, he usually says “I”.  Generic reference: one of you, one of us, one of a kind.

Something different and else gathers when asked for his name.  Standing by words.  “Nathan”, then.

Something given.  Something earned by a story.  An occupation, a station, a set of behaviors and moods.  A moment, response.

Most of the time he is human.  A style, a class and a trope.  At “Nathan” he gains all his failures – a “he” and a “father”, a “writer”, a “son.”

He prefers being “I” – one among digits, a 0 or 1 all the same.  Taking an instantaneous place in the code.

Feels uncomfortable filling up “Nathan”.  Making choices, selections of now and then, here or there, commitments to plans and what has been done.

Occupation.  Specific surround.  Others creating identity.  1s, 0s, all in a malleable line, disrupted by every stroke of a key.  Each return and deletion and send.

Fluid duplicities of multiple minds…converged and conjoined.

With our “names” we profess a location.  Always so far from the truth: provisional goals.


From the start “she’s” been too much to handle.  Representative of dreams and beyond, culminative, a paradoxical [paradaisical?] symbol of sorts.

He drowns in.  Desire.  An ache and overwhelm.  Another is always too much.  An other requires one to be.  Stake positions.  Select.  Choose.  Behave and act.  Become.

Desire feels like less than a choice.  A responding.  Implicit, reminding the lack of control.  He is base, greedy, hungry.  1 among many.  He is tissue and cell.  Energy.  Magnetism.  Gravity.  Reaction.  “She” determines.

“Nathan” is constructed of carbon and water.  It burns and it flows.

Weak bonds and strong.  Necessity and chance.  Survival and growth.  Spirals.  Returns.  Recursion.

The name is assemblage.  Situated, dependent:  “Nathan”.  “Nathan”.  Nathan.

To give.

Give way, give place, give meaning.  Give prominence, power, support.  Give out.  Give in.  Giving everything.

Desire undoes him, undoes me, even I.

Somehow it accrues and accretes to the name and gets seen, blamed and reported.

This one.  Now.  Becomes.

Like formulating sentences – attempts toward complete – so various, anonymous, available.  Becomes.

Insubstantiated concretion – at “And you are?”  “I mean, what is your name?”  “How are you called?”  A power relation demanding a “choose!” and derision, analysis, judgment.  Accounting, solution, report.

This equals “Nathan” in this context…I am.

“He” goes sick at encounter.  Disclosed.  Disappointing.  Disabled.

Potential of speaking as “I” (1 of us) become static and constrained by “this 1”.

Identities form.  In relation to – her, them, here, then, there, now.  In relation to – “what is your name?”  WHO ARE YOU?  In relation to – ELSE and its difference – Othering.


Vignettes of the Hermit



He changed his clothes, wearing a color he usually would not.  And of course the day was different.  “Sameness” (from one moment to the next) is a difficult seed to piece.  Yet, he’s identifiable.

Last year, his hair was cut.  By a trusted friend, no doubt, yet it hadn’t been severed for nearly two decades.  His behavior altered, his manner of speaking and greeting.  Him.  But (to those who knew him) he was still recognizable.  Somehow.  Even if not so much to himself.

Humans are strange.  There’s the sound of rain.  Emotions.  Appearances.  Sunlight.  And many other things besides.  There is language, for instance.  And touch.  Scents.  Each tiny change – alteration/adaptation – is micro- and macro-scopic.  Is.  Effective and affective.  Not easily discounted.




She did not want to interact with him.  That, at least that (much) was clear.

She sat down, she closed her eyes.

She wished to stop the opportunity.  As if to say – “I am now sleeping.  You (any other) cannot reach me.”  Any (other) – even (you) – blanked out, refused, forgotten.”  “I am asleep.  Do Not Disturb (me).  I am Off Limits to you (any) you.”

He understands.  Reads sign signals.  Goes silent.  Writes on paper.

His dialogue – a wounded scraggly trail of hurt – writing.

No one (wants to) listen(s) to him: so he wails, expresses, tells, shares his story with flattened and dehydrated tree-pulp.  He draws confessions (conventional words), his family-language, blah blah blah – onto surfaces of desiccated dying.

So he might feel (an eensy-weensy tiny-whiny) a little bit that he matters.  That (i.e his feelings, experiences, being) is not ONLY shut out by closing (closed) eyes, but may (in fact) –

No, never mind.

[someone might care?]

No, never mind.

Eyes closed, shutters drawn: No.


Believing language makes things possible.

He (in order to survive) needs belief (otherwise – ?) that someone (one?) hears (cares?) attends (asks?)

Shaping letters onto dead matter.


What a Story Looks Like to Me

The Trouble Is

He feels slow, tectonic, deeply submerged even, unable to act, not able to speak, disabled (apparently) to respond, incapable even of processing.  Something seems to have happened.

She – is confused and confounded – experiencing a complex cocktail of distress and depression, pointless and pointed-out, sludged, sloughed and slathered, comatose and doomed, sad and angry in equal measures.  A compound.  A compound problem.

But she’s not.  And he can.

And they will.

The trouble is.

Yes, the trouble is.

Not easily fitted.  Because it is this time.  Again, it is now.  And now, again.  The words were made from before, or for some last time, some other.  Something foreign.  Along with the categories, analysands and diagnoses.  Along with the remedies: all for a potential future or other distinctively past.

But it is now.  Yes, the trouble is.  Is now.

Words of others.  Ideas, aspects.

Always malappropriate and inadequate.  Words are not it.  Words are something else.

This is not discrete or verifiable.  Simple.  Is.  Trouble.

Yes, the trouble is.

And the trouble is now.

She collapses.  He freezes again.  And this frozen is yearning.  Something excruciating.  Like her.  Like where she is, now collapsing.  Collapsible.  Collapsed.  That’s the trouble.

The trouble is.

He wishes and fumbles, at light-year’s remove, another era, disabled, catatonic, all too aware.

She breaks in and through her fall.  He hitches and constricts.

She gurgles a sound, a horrible mutable sound, hardly audible in her destruction and dismantling, her infolding and coming undone.  And he cries, cries out, a sort of bellow and howl of noiseless emission, helpless to keep up with time, incapable of presenting, shaped and occurring like shore-stones and wheat-seed.

She is done.  He has yet to arrive.  He will not get there.  Too far ahead and far too behind, and she is in trouble, and the trouble is.

Yes, the trouble is.  It is now.

Something has happened.