Unstillable

scribbling

“Pangs of faint light and stirrings still.  Unformable graspings of the mind.  Unstillable”

– Samuel Beckett –

Let’s loiter about here a little, as if language were lakelike, locatable, alive enough to lollygag loose within.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps it is nearly always just-becoming.  Perhaps nearly all, nearly always, is thus: just-becoming – liminal lineaments languishing-then-livened, languishing-then-livened, “again” we might say, designating (de-term-ining) a balance to enlivened.  How so?  Why so?  By what author(ity)?

Unstillable.

“In the madhouse of skull and nowhere else” (– Samuel Beckett).  Is that so?

“Skin has no choice but to converse with the world…thin, ignorant borderland of skin…myself all trespass, misunderstanding, translating, translating…” (-Laurie Sheck).  Is that so?

If words were invented with sense.  To “make sense” between one and an ‘other.’ 

What if words ARE THAT?  Connective contours between.

I am inebriated, my willingness loosened to expression, though it might ruin me (like language) and I stare (Dostoevsky – ‘Myshkin’) “intently” into Mikhail Bakhtin’s face, his specific eye-gaze, and say:

“Is it the case that words are ‘meant,’ are ‘formed,’ are breathed, are…constructed, are…utilized, to be tissue woven between ‘me’…and ‘you’?”

Do we… speak, say, expire back and forth… to become?  To string and weave lines, flows, strands, threads, that might forge or invent co-respondence, texture, significations combining you and myself into WE?

But Bakhtin is dead, and cannot answer.  Mikhail Bakhtin does not have the capacity to co-respond.

…like Beckett, Blanchot, Plato, Montaigne, Pessoa, Pascal, Wallace or Euclid, Bulgakov, Heraclitus, or Celan (as with any and all dead!) he emits traces (tracings) with which I can consider, decipher, and interrogate in and within my ‘selves’ but not between

What might this ‘mean’ – between anyone?  Nothing.

It can not, has no opportunity to, delineate or circumscribe, draft, figure or shape any relation.

Sign emitted, call evoked, death, and then text as silent partner.  Prognostic retrograde delineation.

Bankrupt, impassible, impossible, communique.

The decoding of words as communication, connection?  An imaginary.  A handling of terms.  Inventing, devising, originary.  With whom?  Where?  How?   Hint and vestige, remnant and sketch, scheme and fabrication, inkling and outline.

Unstillable. Unformable graspings of the mind.  Is that so?

If we’re limning the liminal now, let’s loosen the letters and slacken the sieves.  Lasso and lounge, scatter and scrape, together (to gather) – a scintillate sense – sporadic sparks, succulent scenarios – exist for enlivening language, whatever limited lust lies therein – if language is locatable and not merely modal mechanics?  A modicum of music then, some scrap of sonority, some lingual litmus ‘making sense.’  Whatever.  Possibility, potential, particible particulars…

“THE TEST IS COMPANY”

“If there may not be no more questions let there at least be no more answers”

– Samuel Beckett, Company

“We must not die: kindred spirits will be found”

– Viktor Shklovsky –

 

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Exploring the Interior

Howitis - Beckett

I am an outdoorsman of the indoors

-Heidi Julavits-

Maybe I’m meant to be a philosopher – one who asks, observes, thinks + wonders, ponders perspectives, theorizes potential generalities, hopes reports and reflections might “stick” somehow to a wider frame, might be shared, or sound true.  Perhaps that’s sociology, or anthropology, or just the case of being a “social animal” – who could say?

I notice a title, er, there is a title I just saw on the spine of a book loaned to me by the library where I work, en-titled “Gesturing Toward Reality”…which, if we believed it, proves another spine in the pile: “The Primacy of Semiosis.”  If.

Or as if.  Azziff.  As. If.

If that’s how-it-is.

(“How It Is” is also in the stack).

As If That’s How It Is

And So It Begins

Goes

“And so it goes.”

My house is cluttered.  I seem to have a penchant for creators.  Not artistes.  Perhaps the kids wonder.  I task and clean (hardly) in order to order what I can especially whenever anything or everything feels disordered (or I am), but I repeatedly conjoin with those whose vibrancy depends (or seems to) on mess, on possibility and potential, on emergence.  Whilst I career about, disordered and emergent, clinging, striving, desperate for order:  ordered thoughts, ordered words, ordered places, ordered life.  None of which ever even remotely eventuate.

Except perhaps.  Or, as if. 

Still things settle quickly in me.

Crumble, toss, shred, pile or pack anything about, for, with, around me (even my self with my self, or selves) and it funnels, spirals, gathers – most amazingly efficiently! – in fact quite remarkably and chemical-reactiony to a bottom or base – a dredge, a sludge, a collection of chaos quickly finding its way to a murmur – a melancholy.

What would a writer do?  A philosopher?  Musician?  Psychologist?  Lover?  Parent?  Friend?  Any, all of the roles I might enact as parts of my selves?  Or…what would I do?  What might an I made up of me(s) want to do?

That thing [being, organism]…in moments settled and gathered and overwhelmed – feeling steady, calm and helpless in the face of things – MELANCHOLY – “good” I guess (comparatively – a state in which the energy is gone for acting, for performing in the face, presence or need of another)…particularly:

  • When the weather is ‘right’ for it (40s & raining)
  • When there’s too much or too little to do
  • When depleted from something taxing (performances, events, demands, others)
  • When certain of scarcity and definite end

The thing wants particular music – “sad songs” (Mark Kozelek, Arvo Part, soundtracks, solo piano or cello); a stable table and sheaf of lined blank papers; a Bic Crystal medium ball-point pen in blue or black; 1-3 hours uninterrupted; endless drink equal parts vodka, tonic and 100% grapefruit juice; a cigarette or two; loose layered clothing; and an outside for the inside to poke around in I guess, to hazard (haphazardly). 

That’s what I do.

Time and space, a melancholy, a setting…

or sex,

a vital moisty intimacy with (and only with) the one I love,

desperately (unfortunately) need, desire, crave, wish for…

So – to write.

To leak in a hesitant line.  Ink.

To see if the liquid residue scraping looping shapes across light blue lines of snowy-white notebook pages might in-scribe, in-form, make my inchoate choate – make the amorphous and disordered shapely and full, meaningful, possible.

Whether I might accept, discern, agree with something that makes its journey through the networks and passageways that apparently compose me

that might result in something I recognize or comply with, if even only

– like these are the times I stare neither at the bush with its waving tendrils, nor the fence poles they move against, but somewhere in between –

if even only [syn. for withholding judgment] (my drafts are filled with these) to hear the unknown or misremembered word

nothing in focus but an unlabelable feeling

which I call (when required) – “melancholy” –

defining for me something calm, dank, pure, correct –

a sieved and all-accounted-for awareness –

before some crazed and passionate outburst or heat, some diversion of this otherwise apparent cold, wet, burn.

The word I can’t recall (that I need) begins with a “c.”  Or perhaps an “a” or “ad-.” 

Or maybe something else among its 26 options.  25 really, I use so few that begin with “z.”

**********************************

Lael asks for statistical proof of decreased attention spans while I get bored of expression, description, “tack”…change the color of my pen and wonder why the average popular song is 3-5 minutes long but novels normally run past 100 pages.

It would seem that we all just want to be and be loved, however we verbalize it.

I still haven’t remembered that word…and refuse to utilize thesauri or Google.  Or any alternate synonym finder.

Our value lines seem so personal and arbitrary and irrational (philosopher?  Anthro-socio-psycho-logist?).

I want to be intimate with my partner.

In such a way.

In such a way that she understands, comprehends, – EXPERIENCES – how significant, important, crucial, essential

she really (REALLY)

IS

to me

to ‘a’ “me.”

Being.

This rambling ridiculous writing

is all, actually, thoroughly,

another misguided attempt to communicate.

Truly or in reality

That I exist in order to be a “me” in relation to a “you.”

Quite simply.

It weighs nothing

bears no responsibility

It’s simply.

I marry you (again).

I am.  A “folded clock.”

among billions.

If even only undeterminedly, undecided, uncertain, unsure, debatable, dubiously, [all synonyms for withheld judgments].

Not least among the spines arrayed before me: Complexity – My Struggle – The Erotic Phenomenon – Reviving the Living – Experiencing & The Creation of Meaning – Things Merely Are – Intertwingled – and Love.

**********************************************

It occurs to me in matters of most everything that I need / demand / require CONTINUAL PROOF for something – for me – to count as “true” or “actual” – things have to be perpetually evidenced.

Nothing is…but…well…that’s why I trust in death.

“Not another word.”

“You already know the difference between the size and speed of everything that flashes through you and the tiny inadequate bit of it you can ever let anyone know…this is what it’s like. That it’s what makes room for the universes inside you, all the endless in-bent fractals of connection and symphonies of different voices, the infinities you can never show another soul. And you think it makes you a fraud, the tiny fraction anyone else ever sees? Of course you’re a fraud, of course what people see is never you.” – DFW.

I don’t know what to tell you. If this piece by DFW doesn’t resonate and “work” on you, well, ok. Perhaps he’s not for you.  Please give it a read, again, if you have…

DFW - Oblivion

click for link to “Good Old Neon” by David Foster Wallace

Arrivals (cont’d, crossed over the Atlantic)

Isles from the air

Arrivals

“We may ask of our destinations, ‘Help me to feel more generous, less afraid, always curious.  Put a gap between me and my confusion; the whole of the Atlantic between me and my shame.’ Travel agents would be wiser to ask us what we hope to change about our lives rather than simply where we wish to go.”

-Alain de Botton, A Week at the Airport

I must have slumbered, unattractively and fitfully, for the plane windows were open and it was very very bright in the sky.  My glasses had fallen, my head scrunched under an arm rest, legs tightly angled and restrained from the aisle by the arm rest just one seat away.  And below, there were moments of Ireland.

I finished the book, thinking de Botton’s observations might make the arrival more profound.  But Rick Hanson’s Just One Thing helped me more.  “Find beauty, take in the good, be compassionately for yourself.  Breathe out long and the intentions (little by little) will seep out around you” (a paraphrase).  As we circled London, having skewed our arrival from delay, the clouds thickened and soon we were scuttling through the wet and the grey.

I thought: ‘Experience is like this’ (of course it is, it is my experience!) – most of it a thickened ambiguity – the swirl and swoon of our passing – when the winds are right you can make something out – particles of cloud, the edge of the wing, sometimes even a reflection.  That was the moment – clouds surrounding the wing, the wing itself, and the reflection of the scumbling clouds on the wing:  world, ourselves, and occasions where we catch our perception – our experience.

And then we touched down, wet splashing the plane, 21 hours and 41 minutes (by the clock) since I’d set out on this journey.  Customs went smoothly, my luggage arrived, and I tunneled by train to my host.  Now I’m in place at my window as the city becomes squares of lights.  de Botton states it thus: “I returned to my room at three in the morning, struck by a sense of our race as a peculiar, combustible mixture of the beast and the angel.” Assessing out from myself and this view of the city, I agree.

“We forget everything: the books we read, the temples of Japan, the tombs of Luxor, the airline queues, our own foolishness.  And so we gradually return to identifying happiness with elsewhere:  twin rooms overlooking a harbor, a hilltop church boasting the remains of the Sicilian martyr St Agatha, a palm-fringed bungalow with complimentary evening buffet service.  We recover an appetite for packing, hoping and screaming.  We will need to go back and learn the important lessons of the airport all over again soon…”

It’s good to have help on the way.  Thanks to Alain de Botton, Rick Hanson, Cees Nooteboom and David Foster Wallace for “a kind of writing that could report on the world while still remaining irresponsible, subjective, and a bit peculiar” – moving me (little by little) from a here to a there.

view from hotel window

view from hotel window

15 February 2014

 

 

 

 

 

DFW

“In Infinite Jest, for instance, Wallace provides a long list of lessons and exotic facts that one acquires from hanging around a “Substance-recovery facility,” a list that goes on for four pages. You will learn, he writes:

That certain persons simply will not like you no matter what you do.

That most nonaddicted adult civilians have already absorbed and accepted this fact, often rather early on.

That no matter how smart you thought you were, you are actually way less smart than that.

A few pages later he sneaks in the line:

That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable.

-Laurie Winer, https://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/choosing-not-to-be-on-david-foster-wallace

(The First Good Novel)

Meaning

In any breaks in necessity – between semesters, breaks at work, children otherwise occupied, no “required” readings or commissioned work, etc… – with each passing season, I gradually discover what matters most to me (literarily speaking, which, for me, involves much of my lived life) – perhaps I might refer to it as my meaning-making-factory-resources (Blanchot says of Borges that he is “an essentially literary man – which means that he is always ready to understand according to the manner of comprehension that literature authorizes).”  At this point in my living, over four decades along, and a large percentage of the pie devoted to reading, those voices I turn to, their messages and efforts, have become quite consistent.  Each year there are new ones, new threads and concepts, theories and expressions that very significantly impact my living – but they tend to find their place as commentaries, extensions, additives and queries to what (I suppose) now forms my central “canon” of sorts.

This struck me, following my return to Bakhtin and Blanchot, and as we prepare for vacation how I immediately reached for Soulstorms by Clarice Lispector and The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel) by Macedonio Fernandez.  In searching for this image of Fernandez:

Macedonioa host of Google’s “related images” arose – including Borges, Lispector, David Foster Wallace – and I got that vision of how pantheons develop and connect and gradually form a kind of woven semiotic pattern – a “worldview” or “Innenwelt” I guess – it begins to make sense what’s connected to what and whom to whom throughout time and space of world-being.  Beckett, Blanchot, Dostoevsky, Pessoa, Rilke, Cixous, Kafka, Bakhtin, Jabes, these visions and verbals I return to again and again and again and again – inexhaustibly – and although my copies are nearly glutted with markings and underlinings – and they feel intimate and familiar (on the one hand) – that I also feel I am always learning them anew, freshly, with EVERY read.

These things astound me.

Museum of Eterna's Novel

Of this particular book (which I often say is the very best novel I have ever read, repeatedly), Adam Thirlwell writes “It is a novel which does not want to begin.  Or, perhaps, it is really a novel which does not want to end…The aim of Macedonio Fernandez’s novels is to convert all reality into fiction (or the other way around).”  “The real subjects of this lightly playful novel are the grave ones of death and love.”

“In his novel, Fernandez tests the possibility that all philosophical questions are only meaningful in relation to human relations: that all questions of infinity are really questions about love.”

and so on.

Macedonio 2

Macedonio is, for me, a hero the likes of Bakhtin, Blanchot, Beckett – those writings and writers I will never “get over,” never “get around.”  Writings I can only ever “go through.”

Perhaps these writings are characterized by the question – “What is it to be real?”  I recently discovered in one of those “shock of recognition” moments that although I’ve studied theology, philosophy, classical music, art and literature and now information sciences and systems theories – that none of the CONTENTS of these fields sustain my passions – it is the relationships between them – the ligaments and synchronous reverberations they emit – the MEANING-making effects of their pursuit and inquiry that is REALLY what drives me toward, into and through them.  I’m not looking for truth or necessarily facts or any answers – but for PROCESSES and PRACTICES that enrich, enhance and extend my biological life in relation to the world I’m “thrown into.”

Borges wrote of Fernandez: “Macedonio is metaphysics, he is literature” and that “writing was no trouble for Macedonio Fernandez. He lived (more than any other person I have ever known) to think.  Every day he abandoned himself to the vicissitudes and surprises of thoughts as a swimmer is borne along by the current of a great river.”  The novel’s translator writes: “The method is madcap; the intent is desperately human.”

Perhaps that is what I’m after – to be “desperately human.”

and now we’re heading off to the wilds – to be desperately human with-world with-family – replete with above-mentioned authors and without wi-fi or internet services!

P.S. (also from current reading – The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg):

“Be attentive, feel nothing in vain, measure and compare:  this is the whole law of philosophy.”

and

“To grow wiser means to learn to know better and better the faults to which this instrument with which we feel and judge can be subject.”

All the best!

Updating Margins

Greetings all you who take the time to peruse my blog.  I thank you.  Let me begin this by saying how I have missed creating blog entries that feel creative to me, that require me to a degree that is nourishing and satiating, rather than feel like marginal notes to my studies.  Thank goodness for a few projects and Friday Fictioneers that  spur me to some dedicated time spent “creating” purposively – differently from intellectual processing toward understanding.  And yet…

As I emerge into a brief pause between semesters, I find myself bewildered with experience and an oddly felt “freedom” that spawn confounding questions in me.  As I completed my final semester paper this week, my mind and body revved to the thought that fictions, essays and poems that participate in the structure of my desk – beckoning and ready as I researched away – can be grasped and delighted in, engaged at will, enter my cranial conversation…but this is also true of my researching – I have been consistently able to construct academic projects that involve and enable my immersion in those things that inspire and enthrall me – that feed my “what do I want to know?” urges.  So where this different nuance of feeling/experience in reading?

This is the question occupying me currently (or field of questions).  As I re-entered Robert Musil’s writings these past few days, while skimming and browsing an unbelievable desk laid with exquisite appetizers (Hejinian, Okri, Danto, Deleuze, Shklovsky, Creeley, Fante and so on) I recognized a feeling I can only describe as “insight.”  My preferential selections do not differ much between resources for academic work and resources for some other purpose.  I am driven to “know” what I am driven to know – it is continuous, related, dynamic.  Any sources from any genre or field or discipline that provide a certain “something” accomplish it.  What felt like “insight” was the recognition as I ranged over very different styles (Floridi, Serres, Wittgenstein, DFW, Larry Levis and so on) that what I seek consistently (and an effect that Musil invariably realizes for me) is work that I must achieve, that challenges, that invents, wrestles, requires change and adaptation, innovation and labor on my part to be ingested, understood.  That forces dialogue between my micro-world of knowledge and understanding and another.  Be it in the mode of expression, the language employed, the ideas, questions and concepts examined or points of view – it must be something that invigorates and surprises, invites dialogue and conversation toward meaning and understanding to occur.  Writing that requires change to be engaged.

At the same time I recognize that I read differently different writings.  I expect poetry, aphorisms, fragments to require percolatory time, as if the texts and spaces sprinkle my mind-lawn and will find their way to the roots in their own time.  I expect logical writings, perspectives or positions to argue with me, to have asked questions beyond what I have had the knowledge to ask, therefore pushing whatever I contain toward corrections and new formulations – adaptation and growth.  If writing asks that I be passive, within sentences it is set aside.

These are the questions I’m formulating and troubling in this margin –

  • How are freedom and restraint – affordances and constraint related (particularly in relation to my felt experience of reading selections – and to what purposes (“academic” vs. – ?)  (is there a versus? or is my criteria for reading homogenous regardless of “assignments” or artifact?)
  • Related: compositions – whether related to schoolwork or blog or journal or artistic projects – are they dissimilar in any way other than forms of expression, manifestation and items?  Or is all processing and expressing work similarly creative, inventive – processes toward meaning?
  • Can I begin to dissolve my penchant for categories and tasks, loosen a little my instinct of organizing complexity?  Do I want to?  Why?

These are my offering for today – reports from the margins, the notations always accruing and collocating in my experience – given air through a shifting of immediate responsibilities…

“To accept questions consists in immersing oneself in the search for the answers that answer them.  Furthermore, the questions specify the answers that they admit.”

-Humberto Maturana-

attached: a phenomenal recollective account of the theory of Autopoiesis – of creatively self-organizing systems like ourselves and our molecules that stuns me.  I invite you to read and differently consider your experience of the world:

Humberto Maturana – Preface to “Tree of Knowledge”

“the pursuit of knowledge does not mean conquest, but invention, the establishment of new relations, which supplement already existing ones and can transform them, make them branch out into unexpected dimensions, rather than deny them, or discredit them as manifestations of opinion, illusion, ‘culture.'”

-Isabelle Stengers-

attached:  a powerful account of “knowing” and how we conceive/relate to the acquisition of knowledge.  Again, if these sorts of things interest you and you are not familiar with her work – I highly encourage you to browse this writing:

Isabelle Stengers – Do We Know How to Read Messages in the Sand?

And again, I thank you for indulging me  in sharing some of my process of living

through this blog…