An Equation

I’m running through files trying to organize things and adjust to a new computer.  Once in a while I stumble on something I hardly remember making but still feel a deep accord with.  This was one of those things.  I think it stands for.  Still.  What.

(i only wish it were still freezing)

Here goes:

Moment: Airy

(being an experiment, in theory

a result)


It is hard.

It is hard and it is cold.

Hard as in difficult.

Each thing.

And cold because of the weather.  Well below the freezing point.  But his gloves staid on, his lips held a cigarette, and he boxed.

He could box that paper.  That paper-thin page.  Already beaten to a pulp.


Him with a theory.

The theory a sort of equation.

The equation as follows:


ALL (whatever a person is, has, does) + ALL (a person’s skill, effort, strength, talent, knowledge and ability)

= Appearance of Art (momentarily)

Notation:  A + A = AA

An utter mystery to him.

So he sat in the freezing cold, a pen in his hand, the ink sludging slow, paper on a desk, digging/ exposing / exploring himself, believing / composing / revising language,

oh, and the catalyst necessary to the actual experimentation of this theory – (he writes) – MAKING

One had always to be making (working, acting, writing, performing) with ALL (of him or herself) and ALL (of one’s capacities, faculties and tools) to carry out this experiment, i.e. to test the hypothesis.

Catalyst: (he notes) making (out of/into/with/toward)

Source and goal (purpose, intent) unnecessary, indifferent

Any action requires an energy source.  In this case: living organism possessing capacities, perhaps even proficiencies, and coffee, and cigarettes.

No specified laboratory or station or constituents (conditions) to each his own [marginalia]


Quite a simple test really.

Requiring no great funding, no special services or permissions, few qualifications, variant supplies.

Simply vast amounts of time and consistent (persistent) and enormous amounts of effort. (As he saw it).


Reviewing centuries of other experimentations and practitioners of this simple eternal test led him to observe : “results in momentary airy results”

(often discovered in different places at different times dependent on observer – even in same test results – thus airy, ephemeral moments)


Feeling he had yet to produce an AA.  A momentary Appearance of Art, he was compelled to introduce a compendium of criteria – identifiable attributes – whereby to justly analyze resultant artifacts and actions.

Again the qualities boiled down quite simply:  put the equation into reverse for the observer or verifying assistant:

an Appearance of Art results through the remaking process or catalyzation of the observer,

requiring as a result, ALL of the observer’s person and ALL of the observer’s capacities,

faculties, abilities.

Notation: criteria for AA to be AA:

AA = (must equal) A + A

He practiced this experiment from both sides of the equation – attempting to verify Appearances of Art by engaging / observing / remaking results that demanded enormous effort, large amounts of time and all of his experience and capacities, and as the performer of the experiment – devoting vast amounts of time, energy and effort of his total self to the making of Appearances of Art.


It wasn’t going well.

It is hard (extremely difficult)

And it happens to be very cold (causation: weather in Winter)


He’d read of other conditions explicated by practitioners before him: contingencies such as warmth, geographical position, silence, wealth, solitude, suffering (the Ss came up quite often); specific environments, times or places, assistant substances or particular tools or resources, even difficulty itself had been recorded – but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason, certainly no agreement, in fact, very often direct and incommensurable contradictions between one catalystic experimentor of A + A = AA and the next, which led to his marginal note (copied above): “to each its own


He carried on, in spite of the grave difficulties, confusions and multivalent referents of the equation’s elements.  Once in awhile he believed he had discerned a momentary result – an appearance of art in his own private performances of the experiment; unfortunately he could not obtain verification of his tests from contemporary scholars/students/or adepts of the ancient and cryptically-clear equation.

He had no trouble himself verifying most attested AAs, given sufficient time and effort, but, as he progressed in his work, identification became more efficient yet verification demanded more and more of him, devouring his time, energy and effort, interfering with and greatly complicating his own experiments and test cases from the equation’s other end.

He began to understand why past personages were led to choose to practice and perform the experiment from one side or the other.


It is hard.

It is cold.

And there is only so much time and effort.

There is only so much living organism to be had.

Limitations began to seem insurmountable.

But by now he had come too far.

There was only to go on.


It is hard, he wrote.

It is hard and it is cold, he recorded.

Hard as in difficult.

Each thing.

And cold because of the weather.

But my gloves stay on, he wrote, and my lips still hold a cigarette, right to the end.

His gloved hand fighting the pages.

There is only so much life.




N Filbert 2012



What Once Was Here…Again

A couple of days ago I reblogged Searching to See‘s incredible posting “What Once Was Here.”   Their pictures lived on and wriggled their way into my psyche, so I asked if they would be open to me composing some paragraphs responding to the images.  What follows is the result of that…

What Once Was Here
images – Emily and Alex Hughes
texts – N Filbert
  1. What’s left hanging, a dangling or loosened shadow, often ends determining.  A note you left with simple instruction opened on unprepared mystery.  Unable to handle and afraid of the dark, tiny conduits tunneling everywhere.  The twine wobbly and knotted, but the lines of the threshold so clear.  When things are left hanging, though exciting and ominous, possibilities frighten.  The key to what once was here is risk.



Writing: the Characters

Writing: the Characters (1)


Not beginning from anywhere but here.

Here being where I am looking for a character, a someone, and specific, with a mind, a body, and particular knowledge and actions, whom I might observe and record.  On whom I might test out my language.  Whom I create.

Exercise in perception, then.  To see what I could see, perhaps, if I looked a certain way, at or into a certain person.  What I might hear, and how to say it.  What would be felt and its work of translation.  The smells and the tastes and the histories, for both of us.  Or perhaps even all.  No, that’s too far.

Right here, though, investigating perception, that preform vehicle, formed by our surroundings – imagination – the multiplex of learning structures allowing me to sense, to perceive.  That also, is here.

Imagination and perception – their invention we call world, and a character, a subject/object like my hand I might observe, hold aside of me while attached by nerves and cells, tissues and blood, by life, its embodiment.

Non-abstract abstracted – that conundrum – here.  The truthfulness of experiencing becoming honest lies.  The words, the print of hand, what tells (or who), and how.

Perhaps another thinks this way?  Well, not exactly, but shares concerns with idiomatic nuances?  Perhaps his education (or hers) was difficult, or pleasurably a breeze, they mastered information like a large and thirsty sponge?  Absorbed and were absorbed in such interstitial structures.  Or not.  Not at all.

An uneducated person with adaptive gifts for resonance.  A mimicking trickster riddling what is heard into naïve and complex wisdoms?  That would be fun.

Perhaps another world – country, continent, planet?  Someone observed for years suddenly inserted in a strange context, situation.  How do they behave, react, manage and survive?  I could use myself in a planet of clouds, or the tunnels of worms, what would characterize me?  How would I change?  What might I effect?  If I were made of clay or had a thousand lovers in a desert?

The only edge to possibility is what experience brings.


But pretending to begin right now, I see him clear.  There is a woman he is watching he finds beautiful.  When she works he sees the curve of her small breast which he desires.  He is ruddy yet refined, of middling age.  He’d like to court her but fears all pain that can’t be bandaged.  He’s afraid of words and their millions of ropes and anchors.  Reality feels like conflict, for him, a continual coming-against, and adjustment.  Adaptation he experiences as loss.  Of unrealized ideals.  And so he walks, spinning narratives in his head.


Here, that possible visitor handmade.  But who?  And how would I know him?  And where was he from?  How was he formed?  Who does he belive?  And so forth…

One way to be here.

One way to press your hand against the wall.




The Violation in Art

The Violation in Art


The trouble with artists, as I see it, is that they’re always breaking things.  Breaking out, breaking in.

As if their experience of the world (and in my opinion anyone might be an artist at any given time)…well, look at it like this…a human person develops perceptions and accumulates.  Artistry consists in these experiences transmuting, transforming and breaking out in alternate forms.

The world seeps, floods, sifts or bursts its way into the artist’s mechanisms of being, and their processing of said worlding breaks its way out, somewhere, somehow.  Often anywhere, anyhow!

Breaking in to us.

A person combined with their experience breaks out in a form through their hands or their vision, movements or mouth…the artifact then enters our perception, experience, breaking in to our own operations and proceedings…entering us.

Now you’ve a mingling of persons going on via artifact, motion or sound.

If you think about this, it’s threatening.  It’s criminal!  It’s viral.  And it can happen at great distances, even invisible, even in your sleep.  It may appear at first benign, even pleasurable, might mirror some part of ourselves (or so it seems) – because of its careless remove from identity toward object it feels safe and external…but how we take it in!

With anger or lusting or joy.  Voyeuristically, “privately,” or in a well-guarded institution.  Through literature, youtube, mp3s.  In deep thought or with staid attention, and passing glances or air-gathering ears.  No matter, there’s infusion, con-fusion, an intimate entwining going on.

And it is without-which-not on either side: construction/reception, speaker/hearer, writer/reader, dancer/audience.  We all become necessary and involved, creating ubiquitous perpetration.  And no one to accuse once it’s part of our experience, our (perhaps unwitting) invitation.

Like cancer or nutrients, an other-marked entity joins with our own joining to theirs in apprehension, a collusion of worlds and of persons.  An act in which all are responsible: reciprocal engagement of voyeuristic and combinatory intimacy, breaking open, breaking in,

breaking out

breaking through

a delicious and permissive crime.

Experiential Ekphrasis

Figures Seated in Mid-Air
by Holly Suzanne

Experiential Ekphrasis.

Hello dear followers – I can hardly thank you enough for taking time out of your lives to look at, read and engage things I am involved in the making of.  Your support and attention is a constant encouragement.  THANK YOU!  (and thank you for offering and creating your own!)…  I wanted to invite you (if you are interested) to visit/follow a couple of other blogsites I also create in/with – and


Clothing – an ultimate ekphrasis?

Costume as Metaphor


            We dress ourselves in certain clothes, change our hair and faces in order to look some way we think to look.  Appearance changes us and it need not be dissembling.  Indeed, what are we?  Are we anything?  Sometimes, we become what we look to be which we have thought to be.  And, on further thought, this may be nothing also though, for the time, it looked to be something.  Other times, our dissembling seems wrong in its particular, as a contradiction of another identity as though we had that identity and an assumed one could contradict it.  We want to be something: whatever we really are, whatever we could hope to be.  But, ‘What we really are is a mystery, and what we could hope to be has only such value as our hope assigned it.  Our aspirations are blind and arbitrary and their success is only their own.

Children dress in scraps of costume and play at being what the scraps suggest.  They try it and let it go.  Later, our commitments are sometimes fuller and the letting go isn’t so easy when our interest wanes as it may.  We hedge it with other interests on the side, secret selves or contradictory clothes which protest the real me, so that anyone’s person may well be multiple and all the multiples tentative and exploratory as children’s are.  The space remaining for definition – so wide for children, or so it seems – becomes narrow and limited and definition farther and farther off and we accept what we were as if it were what we are or even what we had meant to be.  But it isn’t.  We know so.

When we ask who someone is we get places and ages for answers, occupations and antecedents, what times and places someone has occupied or what other external has occupied them, as though we were all blanks and had no shape or nature except by possession.  Our need to possess and our need to be possessed proclaims this.  If we really were something in ourselves, could we need anything?  Could anything possess us?  Possessions hardly satisfy us.  They must have been not our need.

But, whatever our need, they must in some sense have been wrong and we sense the wrong not by contrast with some other possession though it must often seem so: the apparent greenness of other pastures or even this same pasture in the approach of some spring.  We have hopes for projected futures, for what may someday be in spite of all.  In spite of all.  In the light of all.  How impressive the all is: the endless possibilities whose indefinite endlessness makes absurd any one.  How hopeless it is to pose in any particular costume when all we are is limitless and costume denies that, limits us in a role.

What can we ever be if the limitlessness of the all is truly our quality?  We can as little be anything as we could if we were nothing as also it seems we are.  It is hard to decide; and the decision whether we are all or nothing, based as it is on the same premise, produces the same result; we cannot ever be anything.  Though we dress however forcefully or fancifully we will, it is always pretension though the pretense may have its successes, even for a long time.

What of the world?  Though there may seem to be nothing outside ourselves, there is a sense in which we observe and the object, as though it were, of our observation we call the world.  This is absurd because the world is as little as we are.

And yet the language has its declensions and its conjugations.  If we speak at all we speak in the structure of the language and what we say, whatever it is, may matter far less than our accession to the way the structure of the language divides experience in terms of person and tense so as to say we are (or were, will be), so as to say what was or could, what is, who is the first or second or third person, what is singular or plural, that there are or could have been, that there still might be, certain actions, certain reactions.  We speak in tongues however prosaic our speech may be.  The boldness of language supervenes our actual experience.  It means to say what we don’t know.  It creates the world as if the world were.  Its whole necessity is metaphor.

And language need not be verbal; that is to say our postures and houses, our laws and landscapes, our science and public buildings, share the character of language.  They are metaphor also: creations of desire.

Forgive the world, however terrible it is.  We dream of horror, impelled by what we don’t know, and the world seems to contain it; but it is not a real world and nothing requires our belief.

That we believe in nothing is a hard requirement because we want to believe in something: some political theorem, say, or religious creed or, sparing these, some unevaluated strength of our own as though in our person we might prevail and that prevalence had the salience of some proof.  For what?  For our dying?  Because we do.  Unable to think of ourselves this way, think instead of someone ten thousand years from us one way or another who will have or had a name, a place and costume no more and as much as we have.  And who is he?  Even so far as we know, it is a pretense of knowing.  Abandon that.

Belief in nothing is a positive belief apart from relieving us of partialities; and, even in that respect, it is a liberation.  The world is not partial.  Nothing is all and the world is nothing as we are.  What should we say?  Nothing to say of ourselves and the world tells us nothing.  The world is a silence.  But we talk of it and to it.

We know nothing of the world and will never know.  All we say is metaphor which asserts at once our unknowing and our need to state in some language what we don’t know.  How we love clothes; plain clothing or even our nakedness, speaking the silence of the world, or fanciful costume in which we praise some aspect of the world we mean to praise.  Clothing as metaphor, not to dress ourselves nor to say what the world is if we knew but to praise that world however it might be.  Rich fabrics and fine leathers, ruffles and satin, silver and lace, glorious colors and the fragile purities of clean whites: none of these is the world nor are they all together the world.  Songs only that sing its praise, the earnest entreaties and importunities of our desire.

William Bronk

from Vectors and Smoothable Curves