Cabin Reflections

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“Penelope remembers having read that of all the liquids and fluids produced by the human body – sweat, semen, vaginal fluid, saliva – tears are the only one without any trace of DNA… Impossible to identify someone from their tears, we’re all identical when we weep despite the many different reasons we have for weeping, something like that.  Unlike unhappiness, tears don’t set us apart, they make us the same.”

Rodrigo Fresan, “The Invented Part”

Last week I spent with my four offspring at a cabin on the Pikes Peak Massif in Colorado.  Mostly I register grief and loss in my experience of living… but interestingly enough, the first entry of my vacation journal begins with the simple sentence “I’m happy.”  Unqualified, that’s it – myself + my offspring + a rich world reeking of “no service” and untellable beauty… “I’m happy.”  Here are some notes I made throughout the week:

Simple things innerheard during cabin stay:

The stars: “We can’t tell the difference: between light or dark, death or what remains.”

The streams: “Where have we come from, where are we going? / Where we have come from, where we are going.”

Growing things (grass, moss, wildflowers, mushrooms, wild berries, etc…): “Not yet, not yet.  Who knows?”

The rocks, the boulders: “Once upon a time.  Now.”

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The mountain(s): “Maybe.  May Be.”

The cabin:  “Us.  Here.  We.  With.  Hold.”

Phrases of my children:

  • “It’s good to live this way once in awhile.”
  • “Why do we leave here, ever?  I never want to.  What is have to?”
  • “Dad, everything here is your ‘favorite‘.

And me:

  • “Nothing is like this.  Nothing… Belonging, I belong.  Time changes, it’s different here.  As if there isn’t.  THIS PLACE IS ‘BEAUTY’ TO ME.  THIS PLACE IS WORTH MY LIFE.”
  • on climbing: “I’m a dad: we ALL make it, or none of us really do.”
  • on love: “If I say ‘I love you’ – please don’t hear it as worship, as inordinate.  In love we see the ‘too much‘ of the other – that which is always beyond our own reach, the ‘too much’ in each of us we struggle with, and seem to be unable to assimilate or observe in mirrors of our own.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons the conundrum we call ‘love’ exists?

Addresses to my children and loved ones:

  • To T: “Always beware of logic – our fabricated things.  What we may wish toward but doesn’t make matter.”
  • To A: “Recall.  There are differences.  Beware.  There are openings for more life.”
  • To I: “You have it.  You carry your own water.  Your own dreams.  Your own beginnings.”
  • To O: “Heroes also may shrink you, diminish, contain.  You are deeply your own.”
  • To H: “Never mind.  I am not the one who can conquer it in you.  I believe someone will.”
  • To ?: “I love you.  Like literature: the possible of life.  Impossible.”

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Thank you mountains, rocks, growing things, streams….

“The Conflux of Floods” : an Imagined Interview

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            In a recently daydreamt interview (I realize these may be narcissistic, but they have occurred all through my life, and come to function as ways to take account of myself) – in which I had composed writings that earned critical acclaim AND garnered popular and commercial success (crazy, right?!) – I was being astutely questioned (after all, I am both interviewer and interviewee – it’s a daydream), and pressured to account for both the critical acclaim and the mass consumption of the tangled materials of my celebrated novelistic-poetic-essaying (some multi-genred hodge-podge and hurly-burly’d collaging of human inscription).   [Which is also, obviously, occurring in this everyday attempt at its retelling].  For better or worse.

By any account, each time I endeavored to formulate an answer to reckon for the apparent realities under fantasized questioning, I was foiled – ultimately unable to appropriately language ANYthing I strove to express – for the fundamental reason that the shared social convention of language – the available (or known) English nouns, verbs, structures, phrases, vocabulary, ontologies, etymologies, forms, content and context seemed false to my meaning as soon as I spoke them.

I would begin to assay a response, and each available term (even though utilizing an extensive and deft, adept English vocabulary) – each word I was choosing – would seemingly cancel itself.  I was caught in pregnant pauses – an author seeking a term – and the accessible signs and sounds of an encyclopedic dictionary all clanged untrue – inaccurate, incomplete and implausible – incorrect!

The interview proceeded (notably un-entertainingly and un-interestingly) with solid and well-considered queries posed from the history of human making, reflection and inquiry…followed by prolonged silences as I contemplated what might be honest, authentic replies…resulting in the beginnings of obsessive-compulsive, over-thought, manically scrutinized hesitations – cancelled out and undone, revised and corrected, taken back or erased as soon as they were spoken.  Simultaneously to becoming aware of their possible interpretations – conventionalized meanings gassing the atmosphere – the breath and air of their saying and hearing.

For example:  “Well, I think that authors…how could I speak for others…it seems to me…no that’s not right,” or, “It is my intuition, sense of things…my felt experience… no, that’s not quite it.”  “As the mind processes the body’s…wait…what is not body about the mind?  Our language presents a splitting of the two that was never there…I mean…no, no, this is inadequate…” and so on.  Nothing being said.

“Ever try.  Ever fail.  No matter.

Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.”

-Samuel Beckett-

            The failure of the interview eventually came around to the following… a couple responses that might represent something almost accurate, maybe.  May communicate a touch of something authentic, honest.  It has stuck with me for a few days, and yet I can’t quite be sure…

A question arose concerning what I might have done, or be doing if I had fathered less children, were not bound to sustaining a family, and so on… I reflected awhile… and soon realized that I am unable to imagine my life without offspring.  Nearly half of my existence has been lived as a father, and I cannot think of experiences or expressions that they do not co-create in some way.  If any of it were taken back – the struggles and fears, broken marriages, anxiety, joys and determination to survive, regular interactions with their development, activities, quizzings and personalities… I only feel impoverished.

The illusional interview concluded with a large catch-all question, something along the lines of: “Your writings have profoundly moved some readers, yet you consistently express discontent – revising, beginning again, evading – even disappointment in your faltering, hesitant works.  Can you talk about this experience?  How do you account for your dissatisfaction in light of your readers reported satisfaction?”

My reply:  “The only way I can think to address this right now is in terms of a conflux of flood waters.  I, the writing one, have a flood of experience that I wish to understand, interact with, relate to somehow, attempt to comprehend.  I utilize the methods, marks and systems that we, as a species over time, have collaborated and devised with which to communicate – with ourselves, with others – and I attempt, attempt, attempt to forge some accord between the vast swarming flood that my life-experience ever is – as an organism embedded in world – and the means and methods we have for making sense of, imagining, and transcribing such total experiential flow.”

“The resulting expression is always more-than, distinct and different-from the felt experience I have of the flood (as the medium borrows from far beyond my own individual abilities or thoughts, capacities – an enormous fund of expressions, vocabulary and species-deep conventionalized experiences I could not possibly evince on my own) AS WELL AS less-than, deficient, incapable and variant from (not equal to) the ubiquity of my experienced flood.  I am left simultaneously hoping the conventions of language will prove adequate, and despairing they never will be.  What results from this tangle is a writing – a text, document, artifact – of my individual attempts to process the flood of my human experience in conventionalized signs.”

“From the other side of the markings comes the flood of each individual reader’s human experience.  As they (or we, I’m describing my reading experiences) engage the verbal expressions the writer selects to represent or elicit their own flood, the reader’s flood rushes through, around, with, into these written expressions.  When what is deciphered via these conventional funds of language feels apropos, accurate or apt to the reader’s experiential living flood – we are moved, feel met, acknowledged and represented, almost comprehended and understood, and we may feel that this collection, order, expression of language we have discovered in reading actually writes us, so to speak.  Which is why you may hear readers say such things as “I couldn’t have said this better…” or “I can’t imagine this expressed any other way…let me read it to you” (the thrust of quotation).  The section of text, general outlook, sound, rhythm or content of the artifact feels almost miraculously adequate and accurate to our own flood of experience.  Of course, often it does not – in which cases we revise or repurpose our readings toward knowledge or entertainment, something partial or other than full-flood experiencing, holistic (as nearly as possible) communication.”

“We know, as readers, no Other’s experience can be identical to our own, but in lucky moments it feels so.  Feels possible that our experience of the living flood is shared, understood, that our individuality, solipsism is not a locked room, or impassable barrier.  This is the “magic,” if you will, of human social conventions as mediums for individual experiences: they enable or facilitate our joinings, our cooperation, solidarity, convergence.”

“So neither the writer nor the reader are responsible for authoring profound writings, or rather BOTH are: multiple floods of experience crash through the arranged signs and symbols, separated by time and space and differences, but still possible violent confluences – depending on both, or all.  Living experiencings rushing the sign-sets enabling some felt sympathy, intimacy, accord between the floodings and the expressions: conflux.”

“Otherwise it simply doesn’t ring true – might be appreciated for its artistry or ingenuity, ideas, craft, imagination – but NOT an occasion for profound felt accord, convergence, a totalizing feel of representation/expression.”

“Floods in conflux: right now this seems to me the opportunity that care and attention, effort and awareness of our socially species-al co-creating mediums of communication (art, music, technologies, labors, habitudes, languages, modes of inquiry, etc…) allow for, offer us, in moments of fortunate concord.”

“Does that answer your question in any way?”

Tape ends.

 

Erosion, continued: “What Begins as I, Ends as It”: A Form of Fiction (explicit)

MEANING from EXPERIENCE:  “What Begins as I, Ends as It”: A Form of Fiction

 

“Every movement resonates with its preacceleration and its overarticulation, active in a contagion of speeds and slownesses”

-Erin Manning, Always More than One

 

I.

The erosion would be complete (or very nearly) now.  What had once seemed an “inner life” or “personal experience,” perhaps “individuality” or some such, (as far as could be sensed) was wholly in absentia.  No happening, event, or perception – let alone interpretation or meaning.

Now it was only something thesauri’d as anguish – maybe migraine, maybe ennui.

The emptying and erasure, incessant deterioration.  Taking it back to the cells.

  •          Movement.
  •          Terror.
  •          Survival.

Formulating a system.  Psychology and reflection not necessary.  Systems in relation for persistence.  An added instant.  Another day.

            Flefzzhat, remune, it sounded like, and signifying nothing.  Activity is all.  Behavior.  Quieted, plastic, rearranged.  Emotion in hiding or exile.  It would not be decease, and he could not seem to help it.

It was cold.  Began to chill.  Unable, apparently to warm itself.  Something gave it liquid, which, though iced cold, seemed to flush it warm.  Reaction, not response.

Activity observed, not intention.  It shivered.  A scribbling, not a mark.  A murmur, not a sound.  It seemed deflated.  Otherwise.

Not like a rodent, really: not furtive or purposeful.  How to describe it?

A wrapped tree or  scarecrow – if the scarecrow was broken and crook’d.  What would survival mean, without love for words, without relish?  Without desire – is it pro-cess?

Dead crow in flannel.  No future envisioned, no breathing to count by.

 

II.

Room after room over months all displacing.  Pieces at a time – chair here, sock there, key, sign, and implement.  A picture.  Emptiness synonymed, a variant from loss.  Loss implies gone; emptied – gone away.  The figure shuffling toil devolves the way of water – seamless evisceration – an evaporate.

The labor worked like cancer on its host – a devouring accretion.  Humans call it grief – the impression of depression.  Unable to relate, all signs a bag of Scrabble tiles.  A tick will move toward warmth, grass stems trigger to the sun.  Scarecrow? – merely flux.  Perhaps the wind.

At one time it forayed.  The worlds of animals and humans.  Would have named systemic processing: “living.”  Drill down deep enough, or extend exponentially – the vitality recedes.

            Vitality recedes.

            Sonic elements, sense.  Beyond the psychosocial, even basic physics began un-mattering.

Another room, another artifact, another particle of dust duly removed.  The figure now a beach – sand devolving slowly toward rock.

Rock:  elemental, unfeeling, simply there.  Simply there, in its flux.  Taking space by making it.  Stupid, muted, dumb.  Pointilism sans points – that sort of thing.  The figure itself an oxymoron, an elision.  Not illusion.  From outside this is really happening.

From within, it’s only time.  The songs of Orpheus, collected as poems.  Dalliance in extinction, without a puffin’s reward or a dinosaur’s drama.  Just scarecrow – a covered tree – limbing in almost dark.

Prime example of nearly.  Nearly being, nearly attached, nearly meaningful – nearly perceived.  Nearly alive – another way of saying (in a scientist’s tongue): NOT.

III.

If a statement of faith is “always more than one” then here we have a really hard problem:  no statement, no faith, and ever only one…Beckett’s dissolution… How It Is.

“how last how last”…”vast tracts of time” 

IV.

It echoes.  The emptying room.  A hollow.  Blowing stiffly enough, some would say it howls.  If a howl, then a cry.  If a cry, a reaching out.  Scarecrow doesn’t cry.  But the drink kills the migraine, whites out the angst.

Wrapped tree in snow.  You know it’s there.

It, without life or blood or brain.  It now alone, now diminished, now slowly stripping bare.

            Call it the Passenger Pigeon, the Ibex, Orpheo rising from the dead.

Call it Nothing and No-one.

 

Please do not call it at all.

     V.

Someone said meaning was the sticky point.  Point dislodged.  Evaporate.  Another: “this is love.”  Love fucked and raped in eye socket, armpit, ass – then abandoned.

Another room cleared by the scarecrow.  More bark removed from the tree, even while the burlap clings.

Life would astonish the gods – an elegy owed.  It’s worse than that.  It’s autopsy alive – with light everywhere.  A copyist’s error.

            Branches clack, and make impressions.  That is all.

 

 

Passages

quick quip for Friday Fictioneers

Copyright-Renee Homan Heath

Not as if we’ve much choice.  Forward?  Back?  If we could see a little further, higher, or what might be underneath.  There’s a reason we’re heading this direction, away from what’s behind, but still.  We needed water, we’re given sand.  Needing shelter, we find a beach.  It won’t do to stop here, but where do we go?  Carrying on is unknowing, all the same to me, and yet.  Something’s bound to open up, if we could locate a horizon.  You go on ahead, I’m surely unfit to lead.  Why does it always seem like this?

N Filbert 2013