Learning-With, Working In-Between

I found the following paper when cleaning up our dining room table to prepare for dinner:

Ida_Blog

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”

Lacks.

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…

Without which…nothing?

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…

Buechner_blog

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On “waking depressed,” or, Human Clear-sightedness

skeleton

We say that we “wake up depressed” wonder why and conjure up reasons.  What is this “hollow” or “indentation” in relation to?  Depression versus delusion?

Squirming up out of dream or slumber into wakefulness, awareness – illusions and solipsism scattered by light of day, by alertness – what would be the “norm” ‘depression’ dips under?

Say we consider “normal” as the state or condition of being aligned with what is.  The only certain trajectory of living is dying.  Dying the condition of life.  The only permanent outcome of breathing, saying, doing, being…are their cessation.  In confirmation or conformation to this “reality” – what should be the normal living response?  Depression, I should say, full awareness and wakeful understanding that my promise, potential, outcome and fortune are to end.

Decay, departure and death are the certain “norms” ruling human existence.  What occurs, forgets; what merges, diverges; what events, unravels; what happens, undoes; what is made, erodes.  Assuredly, they are strange loops, ambiguous and temporal – more wave/particled than 0/1 – and yet as “fate” or “doom” would have it (definite futures) we know of no other.

Therefore it should seem “depression” would be the normal human state of life, and all forms of happiness or joy come about due to some compromise or delusion – an abnormality – some neuroses or failure to accord or conform to what is.  How might we have come to classify conformity to what is as a “disorder” or diagnosable swerve?

“Certifiable depression” is marked as a disability, a failure to thrive, a condition incapacitating function.  Yet does that not most assuredly accord with the certitude of demise, destitution, eradication?  To terminate activity, halt health, conclude creativity, finish folly and destroy delight would all seem to indisputably align with the necessary phenomenon of obliteration.

Thoroughgoing comprehension of what is – that birth has a single objective – that all roads lead to one – that all effort leads to naught – that entropy – is not lunatic, demented, deranged or unhinged – but rather most enlightened and balanced, intelligent and lucid, perspicacious and well-advised.

Being pressed down, a lowering of quality, vigour or amount, feelings of severe despondency and dejection are surely the most accurately normal experiences – regulated, coordinated and adjusted to what is versus what is imagined or desired – indications of astute apprehension and capacities of apperception to the real.

Do not be flummoxed by “waking depressed” – do not seek for treatments or reasonings ‘why’! – do not be baffled that a heaviness descends, or a ‘pressing down’ is felt or occurs – we emerge into life and descend into matter…the cradle and grave a continuous process.

everyone dies

Meaning

From an email conversation I am involved in regarding human relation to technology…seemed to expose a who-I-am via what-I-concern-myself-with moment in my life worth sharing… and would love any/all comments, ideas, perspectives, regarding:

“I like that inference of thought…influence of larger and smaller systems interacting in our particular (as Lemke refers to them – “focal levels”) living.  I think from Heidegger onward that attention to the reciprocal or interactive influence of what we devise/make and who we are and what makes us continuously reshaping/constructing/constituting us IS a fundamental challenge/question Humanity is within.  This is why I am drawn to technesis as a human activity.  There is no difference from developing domiciles and agriculture, accounting and writing, language and representation in its holistic alteration of the species as there is with what we are within with the devotion to the “digital” – an oddly ubiquitous remediation of experienced matter-ridden-media into this ONE SORT OF ORGANIZATION/CODING.  A strange phenomena.  I think the nearest relative is “writing” and this is where Hansen (“Embodying Technesis”) and Hayles (“How We Think”) as well as Hodder & Ingold’s anthropological works help elicit perspective (& Kittler) on how ALL technological development (craft, architecture, invention, production) so foundationally EDIT us as a species… akin to geophysical change for all forms of biological life.  I suppose what I hope for is some small increase in awareness &/or experiment of capability for Human-kind to discern what amount of agency we may (or may not) have in relation to what we evolve and construct.  Is the system too vast – the biological motive too strong – to continue exploitation and networking (also increasingly representative of our fundamental relationality) – or are we a kind of thing that can affect larger systems in such a way that is transformative?  How small of a part are we, what are our limits of capability, do we have ANY genuine (actual) capacity to discern telos of larger systems… or not (trickles all the way down to personal behavior and ‘psychology’) – can we ever determine our AGENCY (collectively / personally / speci-ally)?  Or is it airy imagination and the activity of abstraction?

Sigh.  This is where I’m at…”

Borrowing: James

Felzmann - Swarm

“In the pulse of inner life immediately present now in each of us is a little past, a little future, a little awareness of our own body, of each other’s persons, of these sublimities we are trying to talk about, of the earth’s geography and the direction of history, of truth and error, of good and bad, and of who knows how much more?”

-William James-