Meta-Recursion: Some thoughts on the task of writing

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Life becomes ideas, and ideas come to life

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Metacognition is a buzzword these days – as contemporary sciences dive in to the neuro, neuron, chemistry and activity of bodily systems, we get to “see” our activities and “think” about them in different possible ways.  Our sciences concoct novel theories and processes, instruments and concepts and categories with regularity, and then our cultures absorb and incorporate these beliefs into our self-understanding and relating.  Metacognition “the awareness or understanding [ha!] of one’s own thought processes” is just such a theory – one writers have long thought about and acted as if, never without problematics.

Recursion, or, “the repeated application of a recursive procedure or definition,” is another one – looped and locked in repetitive activities in which our procedures and language “relate to or involve a program or routine of which a part requires the application of the whole, so that its explicit interpretation requires in general many successive executions,” each successive stage affected by the previous and effecting the following, the inside / the outside, the near / the far, the experienced & imaginary, the art / the life.  Endless recursion within a reigning myth of metacognition…and I am writing.

A writer knowing that I’m (a shifting pronoun) writing so also knowing that I’m writing about knowing that I’m writing (yet uncertain or finitely unable to ascertain all that entails) while I’m writing and therefore writing about that as well as what I’m writing, and so on…pertains to language, truthfulness, reason, perception, behavior and any other human activity…complex and recursive in a culture professing metacognition as a possibility.

This complicates writing in tremendous ways.  It becomes very difficult when composing letters and spaces to evaluate anything as “impossible.”

Quantum sciences, computer technologies, object-oriented ontologies and anthropocenes – complexity, indeterminateness, and relativity all serve as a soup in which we simmer, constraining and affording us opportunities that usher us right up to the edges of our finitude.  The interconnections (internet) of things (or not!) reminds us we cannot understand or know enough to write knowledgeably about even our own organisms, and also expose us billions of encounters and experiences per day that recursively become within our systems.  I spread wider and decenter as the membranes that compose me increasingly appear as sieves.

The larger and smaller scales of life may not be operating like our daily experience, yet we often refer to our lives as “daily rounds.”  Relativity and indeterminateness and reversals of such equations, undo previous comprehensions of the filters of space and time, even as the Western ‘historical’ sense of narrativity and order comes undone, tangling in its possible untangling as potentially ‘solved’ in multiple directions at once…leaving us directionless and indeterminate per any ‘correspondence to reality or ‘truth.’”  Selah.

We must have experienced by now toggling between subject and object in any situation, and to whatever degrees our systems are genetically alike they are multitudinously variant as well.  We are currently aware that our perceptive calculations of our contexts are hypothetical or apply in very limited specificities…i.e., ONCE.  So our taxonomies flux, our histories alter, our cognition and perception get meta-statized, and language becomes a wobbling sign in Big Weather.  Waves and warps, folds and possible interjections.

Apparently it might all be in-formation, movements accessible through relation for operationalizing.

Our “subject matter” dissolves since we no longer have a subject acting through a predicate, but all matter interacting in theorized randomness and happenstance with nary a drive to avoid extinction.  Hosts of events (plot?) with endless extrapolations or interpretations, wherein things long distant and disparately far might “fold in” or “warp past” or correlate via some vibration – and perhaps they do? (memory as a pass of ‘reversal’ in subjective time?)

I am writing.  And so all this must be written, in our stories and imaginary objects, holding nothing, requiring application of the whole and very many successive executions.  Sounds ominous, but the terminus thusfar we can still count on.  It will end (for us, as we experience it).  It must be written – increasingly aware of all I do not / most likely cannot know or understand, and that nothing experienced “fits together” while belonging together in ways we haven’t been able to imagine, fragments fed by fragments feeding fragments inseparably fluid…and I write, I try to write it, in channels of existent vocabularies and beliefs inaccurately scoped.

I (whatever that means) seem to be writing with an awareness that I-am-more-not-I-than-I or I is tenuously distinguishable or occasional, and am writing that I am writing while I am writing that I am thinking about writing which thinking is happening through various media like paper and pen and keyboard and digital text and electricity and air and an incalculable and miniscule trajectory of experience waving particles undone and mutated, I adapt, to no purpose (it is theorized) and go on or along and keep writing unaware even of what I am aware of and operationalize a tiny selection of language flooded with other usages and contexts and I write we write it writes as its writing.

“it is through my writing that I keep a hold on life” – Franz Kafka

And, holding nothing, I am unable to stop.

You must go on.  I can’t go on.  I’ll go on.

Samuel Beckett

Begging your patience at year’s end…

Who is Writing

The year’s end approaches.  Writing by hand grows slower.  In need of practice.  The ubiquitous milieu of technology.  A differing technology, and our relation to it.  Our co-evolution with it.  My father’s handwriting is beautiful.  Still.  Differentiation of the digital.  Digital purposes.  Digits accustoming to tapping, percussive, losing their ability to flow, to caress.  I squeeze this pen too tightly.  As if in fear of losing.

Embedded in each loss a gain, development, adaptation, transformation.  Slowness for speed.  Close- for hyper- (reading).  Ambiguity for binary.  Sloppy for distinct.  Mystery – machinic.  Unique for uniform.  Elegance to efficiency.  What is communication?

Interesting to me, easing my grip on the pen, recalling, desiring, hoping, [nostalgia]…

…it occurs to me:

Habitude.  For years, approaching the blank page [paper] – began with “in the beginning was the word…” an “as if,” as if the void, emptiness, blankness of pulped tree afforded emergence, ex nihilo, some everclear clean unknowing evolution out from inchoate.  Trace and track from complex disorder toward infinitely specifiable order.  Each session a composition of the new…

I am struck by the assumption.  Presupposition of potential: that ANYthing might blankly begin (already, like bicycling, shoulder-elbow-wrist-hand and its particular angles operating this ink-stick picking up pace, stretched and loosening, reaching stride).  Presumption of absence, emptiness, a universal glory of “From nothing: This.”  I create.

Happens no more.  Reviewing the increasingly sparse occasions (with age and responsibilities) I am able to operate with technologies of paper, pen and hand-i-writing over the past few years of employment, reading, writing, parenting and relationship…the fundamental (as in foundational, originary) manner of approach…to composition, inception, expectation, hope and desire…is significantly altered.

The fidelity to languaging remains.  That belief, commitment, conviction and trust that ordering the disordered – shaping absence, mattering energy – still transacts secrets into reveals, fabricates meanings of mysteries, is an activity of arbitrary author-ing/-ity; that experiencing’s a processing of signs, of signaling and symbol – that invention, discovery and behavior = complex activities/adaptations of interactive dynamic systems interlocking at multiple scales – inexplicable, indecipherable, far beyond observation or comprehension – and that action or activity actualizes SOMEthing = something unknown, unforeseen, “free” or “new” or potential simply via the inter-, intra- activity of operationalizing with an environment – IN it, part and particle, (that all ‘moments’ eventuate this)…and yet,

There is difference.  Cermonializing, greeting, risking the activity of encountering, engaging, marking a blank page (against death, in hopes of being, realizing desires, imagining, etc.) no longer invokes “In the beginning…” or “word…” somewhere/sometime along the living this transmuted into “Who is writing – ?”

Space-time carved, empty notepad placed, pen inked and ready, and only the sensation, the amorphous geography of a question emanates – Who is writing here now?

No more an assumption that Someone prepares to express, incise, inscribe.  No more presumption that given the space and the time “I” am an entity full of content waiting for production.  No more Someone with Something to process, work out, or to say…

Simply – “Who is this coming to write?”

And any word will do.  Any mark.  But not just ANY word (although also that) – whatever word(s) come to occur between the living – the instrument – the surface – and said ACTIVITY, INTERACTION, RELATION becomes its own answering.

In the “opening” – questioning and answering are one and the same: RESPONSE and ABILITY.

Writing, a certain sort of what might be culturally convened ‘creative writing’ – for me has become a constituting behavior/action of RESPONS-ABILITY.  Given the temporary knot of my organism-in-its-environment or context…what inscribes here represents my ability to respond within it, at this time.

Who is this writing? replies in the writing, and also takes shape as a Who in the writing.  In A beginning (inception of a specific way of acting) is neither Word nor Who but a bothness occurring in its occurrence…

Who is this writing?

Who is Writing2.JPG

“When I write I escape myself, I uproot myself, I am a virgin; I leave from within my own house and I don’t return.  The moment I pick up  my pen – magical gesture – I forget all the people I love; an hour later they are not born and I have never known them.  Yet we do return.  But for the duration of the journey we are killers.  (Not only when we write, when we read too.  Writing and reading are not separate, reading is a part of writing.  A real reader is a writer.  A real reader is already on the way to writing.)”

-Helene Cixous-

A Narrative Construction

This weird stuff:

This Stuff

            The sky is “cloudy.”  This is part of who he is, just now, in this case.  She’d said “______ ___ _______, _____!” in just that tone, this manner – another aspect constructing him.  That he’s a “he” is also not irrelevant.  Of so many “years,” “locations,” “relations,” “activities” and “behaviors,” “interactions” and “learnings” ought not be ignored or left aside.  There’s no other way to identify him, along with appearance, but that depends (and has changed dramatically from those first cells).

The man is “of an age,” as some might say, keeping track in the ways that people will.  Is “like” (comparing as they do).  Says and does, makes and thinks, with categories shared among the lot of us.  A male human, then, within the commerce of the world, regardless of distinctions, and because of them.

“Specialness” is a classification reserved for none and all.  A sensuous “unique,” observable and rich, endless and utterly common.

And yet we’ll pay attention, for awhile, to THIS ONE.  The one recounted and described, gradually revealed (such as it is), and selected for this tale and task (a narrative product of our genes).  We abide.

Recording “life” – an optional project at our disposal, and “communication” – a capacity shared.  Let’s do this then, with “me” – teller, author, scientific artist; and “you” (all) – necessary “others,” listeners, readers, hearers, respondents.  Composing and perceiving, interpreting, creating – the ways we get along and mean, “make sense of,” all that “happens”

as we’re “in it.”

as we “are it.”

Let’s begin.

We have begun.

And “long” ago, in its beginning – wherever (whenever) – that might be for any one of us.  “Us” – that spreads the lying truth of it – that we are “We” and never “one” or “me” or “he” or “she” or “it” or “they” without the others.  Simply being – substances and structures interactive in “their” ways…

We, the happening, as we perceive it.

What we make of it.

(Whomever we are).

Squirrel, fir tree, trout.

Stone, astronaut, wetness.

“We” – bound by our conditions.

Let’s begin.

[I’m glad we’re sharing] (he says).

THERE IS A BEAR

Contingent Narratives

                                                …and for her,

whose face

I held in my hands

a few hours, whom I gave back

only to keep holding the space where she ws,

I light

a small fire in the rain*

Narrative Construction

Composition

for Friday Fictioneers – January 31, 2014

Composition

Copyright -Claire Fuller

He heads to the room in the attic.  This is where it happens, where it all occurs.  Everything needed is there, at the ready.  A factory for making.  The tools and materials – this is where the work gets done.  Such a tiny place – 53 cm of circular feedback.  Yet somehow within it expands.  Almost limitlessly, it seems.  Whatever is needed appears, is created, invented – “on the spot” manufacturing “just in time.” Manufabulating.  Manuscripting.  You can almost make out all the details – electricity, wiring, elaborate connections – the inside, the outside, and back – and yet how it gets done is quite hazy.

photo by Claire Fuller

Spillage.1 : Action Writing

action writingIn searching through the files on my computer for particular photos, I have been running across many files of which the names are unrecognizable to me, many dating from months and moons ago.  Some of them startle me, some are encouraging, all provide record of where I’ve been, how I’m thinking, what’s at work in me at various given moments.  I thought I’d share a few that seem worthy of being shared, they will arrive under the tag “Spillage” – detritus left to the side when my focus is on projects.  Here’s a sample, found labelled: Action:Writing. (simply click on title link to view)

Action Writing

Transductive Conversations…cont’d (via Lance Olsen)

baby at laptop

 

“One of the wonderful things about word processors is they transform all composition into continuous process.  You can rearrange, rewrite, tinker, copy, cut, paste, open separate files for separate chapters or story sections or poem fragments, a window for notes, another for your outline, and still another for your list of characters and their attributes, and have them all on your screen simultaneously so you can flip among them as necessary while your web browser provides you with a dictionary, a thesaurus, a Wikipedia page, a website to aid you checking this fact or that…

(The less than wonderful thing about word processors is they make every draft look like a final draft, sloppy writing look as polished as just-published.  Careful about being duped by the sheen, and don’t disregard the notion of trying to compose on a lined tablet unless you’ve already tried it and found it lacking; it is a method that both slows perception and increases conscientiousness).”

-Lance Olsen-

olsen

 

Significant?

Toying with significance, practicing writing by hand.

                 Cause of which:  online graduate school (hybrid) perhaps.  Blackboard (not a blackboard + a hand moving chalk), wikis, MS Word, blogosphere…

                  Writing is a different word than typing (“keyboarding,” “texting,” “thumbing,” “fingering?”)

                  Handwriting – is there another?

Writings is different from typing.

not only pacing.

Significance - Handwriting

Significance

“People exist

to attach importance”

(Rae Armantrout)

Exercise.

Once I had the most beautiful pen-man-ship.  Admired, envied, revered.

My hand now working by jolts and shirts (“stammering”)

Wife says I jerk in the night, in my sleep.  As if the wires were hot and crossed.  “Traumatic,” she says.

Like my father.

Who has elegant penmanship – consistent, beautiful, and flowing.

What I aspired to.

And achieved.

Now interruptive.  Herky.  Stuttering.  Multi-controlled.  Cross-wired.

Muscles, nerves, vision, brain + its fabricating memory and prediction: out of sync.

     I exercise a few moments in which I don’t feel particularly pressured and am thinking about significance.

“I listened with great interest and desire to have it be of no significance.

But you know how it goes.  Significance abounded.”

(Percival Everett)

Now my thoughts arrive sturdier through a machine.  Body – extension – return.  The pen was extension.  The ink.  Dependent on the body.  Embodied, enminded.  Transductive.

“‘transductive’ (a relationship whose elements are constituted such that one cannot exist without the other – where the elements are co-constituents)”

(Gilbert Simondon)

Tools.  Media.

Humanity — technology.

Me : keyboard : thought : language.

Me : pen/paper : thought : language.

Transductive.  Co-constituent.  Interdependent.

Significant?

Dreaming of – imagining – my recovered penmanship.

Therefore, exercise.

Communication.

Transductive.

“It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood.  Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean some thing, but the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.  Those sounds, strung as they are in their peculiar and particular order, never change, but do nothing but change.  Even if grammatical recognitions are crude, meaning is present.  Even if the words are utterly confusing, there is meaning.  Even if the semantic relationships are only general or categorical.  Even if the language is unknown.  Meaning is internal, external, orbital, but still there is no such thing as propositional content.  Language never really effaces its own presence, but creates the illusion that it does in cases where meaning presumes a first priority.”

(Percival Everett)

“A metaphor cannot be paraphrased”