Laramie begs “OFF,” or, what happens is parting

What happens is parting…

The incommensurable does not lie outside of language.  It is language.

– Werner Hamacher, Minima Philologica –

“Off” bothered Alias.  It aggravates Alias that Laramie only and simply, states and declares the term “off.”

Strikes him as unfair.  Short-shrift.   Foregone.  An easy conclusion.  A self-imposed or autocratic EXIT.  Cheap escape.

Conversation (that day) silenced (muted) and dulled.  It soured.  When participants elect not to speak their minds or piece, peace or conflict, new tensions are introduced.  Silence [chosen, selected, fought for (or against), willed] intentional silence effects scenarios like speech.  Withdrawal.

Alias tells him; ‘Refusal to speak equals a sort of speaking.  We are both ‘in it.’”

“Off.” Laramie repeated, simply, only, just “off.”  And, “the switch can be binary, non-complex, Alias, simply a choice – ‘I love you,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘I would prefer not to,’ – ‘no,’ – OFF – please allow me that.  I am tired.  You are my friend.  All is well.  It is good.  Life is hard.  Love is pain…OFF.”

The large, long, horizony cosmic swath of atmosphere containing and surrounding human interaction (in this case, in any case) snaps.  It fractures.  The environment (in this case, with the pronunciation of ‘OFF’) simply breaks.

There is quiet (as in) silent (as in) absence of sound, stillness of action, stasis of communion, of commerce, connection –

VACUUM.  REFUSAL.  A plea and a begging to STOP.  QUIT.  CEASE.  To not continue, to NOT go on.  A demanding request for an end.

Laramie states, speaks, invokes, complains, retorts, confesses, professes, declares and pleads and laments, quite simply, to his dearest, nearest and closest confidante, companion, friend and interlocutor – “OFF.”

Laramie chooses.

Alias wants to honor…

grieves, requests, rescinds,

carries on…

evoking ambiguity, anonymity, fiction and untruth.

The calf.

The finch and bluejay and weasel.

Deer, cow, pasture, thistle.

Friends and morning-glories.

The sun, the air; clouds and mid-day.




Left to Say


What she said was.

And there was so much – too much – movement in the still place.

What she said was


To piece together, pull apart was far too much, was overbearing.

Even I’d be overwhelmed.  Why with the even?

What she said was

It is too much.


But I could neither find, nor could I follow, there the thread.

Of what she was saying, is saying, which was…

I cannot.


Think of where that leads!

She said

She cannot think of where it goes, where it comes from.

I cannot.

Is what she said.

She says.

I listen like a camera.

I record.

Her stillness moves too much.

Is unbearable, she says, to be unable, to I cannot.

I don’t believe her, though I see it with my ears.


She says it is too much, I will not try.

But I am trying.

Which does not change.

Birds are caught in all their movement – silent blur.

She can’t decipher.

What it is.

She will not say.  Says I cannot.

I, pressing buttons, click the shutter, press record.

(Depress, record).

She will not can.

I take a picture.

It does not hear.


And what she says is

There’s too much for me to wager on a word

Even in flocks

Even in dialogue, or forms of living movement,

Even in swarms.

I blink.

I snap the shutters.

She has said nothing

She will not say

I hold the stillness, how it flutters.

Silence seems.

Seems only.

But what she says is

She cannot.


The birds swoop past

And there is nothing

Left to say.

Interstices – continuing in between

more sections arriving from the Beginnings and the Second

– 3 –

Message being – she looked at me, incredulously.

– “What and/or Who – are you?” she requests.

I don’t know.  No one knows, I said, half-joking, persisting, prolonging, staying alive.

Longing = staying alive.  Longing = I’m still alive.  And I look at her, longer.  Which means: if only I knew.  The interstice (according to me).  We converge.  A gaze.  I must go.

That’s what I wanted.  The choice.  The decision.  A godlike thing for a fragile, finite boy.  The both of them: god – a fragile, finite boy.

No one owns.

When I returned, I could have said “My love, I am not present with you now.  I am in a future predicted by a possible past.  I am afraid.  I am not here.”

She might have responded: “I see and hear and understand that you are not here with me.  I too will retreat, remove, go away, until you return to me – here, to here.”

I babble on.

But I don’t say “Hello, my love.  I am not present.”  No, what I speak instead is a muddled report of my feelings and fears, my ideas – my present experiencing – a gummy wad of future and past, uninformed by where I am (with you) or who I am with (you) or when (now).  Constructed instead by where I believe I have been (past), where I think we are heading (future), and how I feel about that (afraid).

She recoils.

“I’m going away now” she says.  Which is not where I am.  Not with me.

But I meant.  I meant to say (once I figure out where I actually am): “Hello love.  I am afraid.  I am past and future.  I am absent.”

To which she replies: “Good to know.  Tell me when you arrive, here.  With me.”

Here now.  Or, Nietzschean-ly now/here, is that, and “exactly” : unlocatable.  Nowhere.  NOW + HERE…present.  It can only be lived, not thought.  Thought is too slow.  Lags ahead, leaps behind.

Oh you, I might have said.  And she may have recognized me.  Perhaps.  Now.  Here.  Presently – in the nowhere – the between – the “Interstice.”  Where what occurs, occurs.

“Hello.  I love you.”

– 4 –

Finite, fragile boy.  The fragility and finitude are true, I suppose, but not unquestioned.  However they withstand (the questioning).  They withstand the questioning.  Because I don’t know, and it is not wisdom, this cloud of unknowing, it is finitude, and I am fragile, not only because it’s true.

I am fragile because not all the branches hold.  When climbing.

– “What is it we are speaking of?” she asks (she – the you – asks me – the I).

Past and future, I might have answered.  The unknowing.  But did not.  Instead said – “unreliable.”  Rises, passes away.  Novel-to-familiar.  First one thing then another, desire fades.  I am not stimulus.  Enough.  For no reason.

I, illogical.

You, burdened.  And thus you sigh.  (She sighs her burden, a question).

And I retort.  “No.”  Or, “don’t go.”  But you might, because I have gone (or didn’t arrive, not HERE, not NOW, but somewhere else made of cobbled up pasts and unpredictable aheads).

“I love you.”

But how can that be?

It can’t.  Yet it is.


I don’t know.  But it is not wisdom.

As relates to…



I have wanted to share (for years) the significance and import of Mikhail Bakhtin‘s manner of thinking, writing in the formation of my own worldview and understanding of the confounding irritations of working in language and the interactional miracles of the medium.  C.S. Peirce and Bakhtin strike me as two composers with whom I do not encounter a brilliantly organized thought or true-ringing arrangement of letters that they are not echoed in.  I discover re-presentations and simulacra of their models, but rarely extensions, corrections, or improvements.

With that in mind, I have been poring through a multi-authored volume entitled Bakhtinian perspectives on language and culture: meaning in language, art, and new media edited by Bostad, Brandist, Evensen and Faber.  Note-taking, underlining, cross-referencing, formulating, and it has occurred to me that these texts are SO mesh-marked with mnemonic traces for me, that I should simply provide interested readers access to all I can link.  Setting out to locate a Pdf of the introduction and chapter 2: “Rhetoric, the Dialogical Principle and the Fantastic in Bakhtin’s Thought” I came across the entire collection available online – and so I offer it here.  If you begin, and the perspective captivates you – read on – to the chapters that carry concepts you are passionate about.  If not, never ye mind!  I am happy that texts like this can be available – not easily “stumbled upon” in contemporary bookstores and libraries (unfortunately).

To life:

Bakhtinian Perspectives


par example:  “Language is to be experienced as an interaction of signs neither neutral nor innocent: the word bears the burden of the contexts through which it has passed.  And every speaker or listener bears the consequences of signs put into circulation, of signs he perceives and answers, of signs he picks up and makes use of for his own ends.  One cannot stifle the traces stored in them.  One has to face the cultural experience a whole language underwent in its history.  Speaking this language and listening to it one unwittingly responds to this experience – the ‘word that lies on the border between one’s own and the other,’ the ‘word that is actually half someone else’s.’  The one meaning cannot maintain itself in the face of the many meanings.  B’s concept irritatingly links the atomizing intrusion of the many meanings into the one (an act that atomises this meaning) with the idea that meaning ‘explodes’ in the contact of two different meanings.  In other words: splitting up and differentiation, accumulation and trace must be thought of as occuring in the word simultaneously…Because meaning is always a recourse to another meaning and a project for creating new meaning, it doesn not achieve a decisive, definite presence.”

And so forth….!!!!


“You and I exchange lines of dialogue.  Each line is a trap, a misuse, and each misuse is justified by some standard upon which we  have previously agreed, if tacitly.  Thereby appears the nature of meaning.  It is a force that hazards to subjugate other forces, other meanings, other languages.  We understand this all too well and yet, and yet – well, it is like the infirmity, the defect at the base of a dam.  It will hold and it will hold and then it will give up, the dam will give up.  As do we all…

“Believe what you like.  Or, better, believe what you believe; it’s always easier, if you ask me.  You would have me imagine that in some cases language really is just a simple transmission of rather functional, if not banal, messages between speakers.  Not only is that not true, but it is necessarily untrue, even in the most functional of exchanges, say between two firemen or a pilot and her navigator or a surgeon and his operating-room nurse and here between you and me as you attend to me, where I use she and where I use he and even why I might have put she before he, or did not phrase the question as he following she.”

-Percival Everett-

The Wasps Nest

Friday Fictioneers – April 19, 2013

Wasp nest

We move in, we move out – forging a network in lieu of an origin.  Seekers in search of a source.  Our tunneling leads to more tunnels and caves – enclosures disclosing.   Disclosures enclosing – we seesaw in dialogue.  We create and we seek.  We call it the Realm of the Conduits – we guess and infer, hungry for meaning.  Communicating by movement, we follow and lead, listen and hum.  When sharing we shove through the space.  We sense we’re on shifty smooth ground.  To call it a world does not matter.  The question is how we might meet.

N Filbert 2013

Fictions of Family, pt. 10

the developing words:


Family 1

and part 10:


It taking so long to figure it out.  What it’s “about.”

Discombobulates like sporadic noise.  The fragments living are.


Four decades, seven children from three wives until he recognizes relation.  Which changes things.  Significantly.

It is the third wife (times charm) – out three strikes she staid on.  Stays on.  The difference between things.

In relation to one another.  Evolving perception.  The what-not, call it “aboutness.”  Or in relation to…


This in relation to that is about this much this high this far.  Or else nothing at all.  In itself.  By itself.

By himself, barely amount, insignificant cipher, plus three plus seven plus anything adding up, er, becomes.

Alone is less than one, or, not a number.  It takes 1 to know 1, in other words, all-one really means no 1.  Unless distinguished from something else, another 1, an other.


This he could tell.  The third wife, the difference between.  The aboutness.  Differing shapes entirely, nearer still, at this distance.

1 cannot equal.  Impossible equation.  Might as well be naught, be 0 – a 1 wrapped around itself (turned-in) – revealing just a hole, something seen through.  Looked straight through.

Telescope, microscope, still substance unseen, a looking at, really, looking for.  Simply looking, opened at both ends.  Perhaps a simple function.  What an organism is, alone.


She calls out, in fact pursues him halfway across.  As if to say she sees something, peering through her self-same circularity – that he is there.  He begins experience, begins to get it – something else must be looking, another 1, for him to be seen, to hear of himself.

In what she tells him.


Multiple inputs introduce noise (read chaos, read being), make possibilities, provide things to figure out.  With all the variables it takes a lot of time (to get what it’s about).

RE-GIFTING PRESENTS, part 1: Inhabiting the Medium We Inhabit

Juame Plensa sculpture

This post is an attempt at exploring and hopefully explicating (at least a little) a dialogue that began in a series of comments between the excellent thinker/writer Tocksin and myself.  The comment thread can be read in full here (if you wish), but I will highlight two sections for purposes of this post:

tocksin says: I am noticing we two like to wax philosophical at the expense of letting our characters speak. We are mere babes in the woods being raised by wolves. Tooth and nail we will fight to have our day. Write we must.
N Filbert says: I find that to be true – what you say about being babes in the woods. Wrestling with everything else inhabiting our medium.
tocksin says: Let me feel you more with what you mean by wrestling with everything else inhabiting our medium.

At which point I made some bumbling effort toward it, seemingly tangling into more confusion.  And was set thinking – how would I verbalize what I mean by the wrestling that using language is?  The next two (or more) posts will be my preliminary attempt to language into it.

I interpreted Tocksin’s first message (above) to concern our propensity as writers to be unable to “leave ourselves out of it” (e.g. to let plot and characters, narrative and action be), rather than to voice-in, reflect, trouble and scrutinize our place in the mix of it, the ourness in the howness of any languagings aboutness.  “Tooth and nail we will fight to have our day.  Write we must.”

All of this started rattling about in my old noggin with what darts around in there from Wittgenstein, William James, Gertrude Stein, Bakhtin, M.A.K. Halliday, J.R. Firth, Benjamin Whorf, C.S. Peirce, Edward Sapir, Peter Berger, and thousands of other voices and ideas regarding LANGUAGE, THOUGHT, BEING, PERCEPTION, etc…

As far as I can tell, these relations have concerned humans since humans have experienced concern.  Who are we?  What are we?  How are we?  When are we?  even from time to time expeditioning toward Why?


A few posts ago I quoted Judith Butler from her Excitable Speech to the tune of:

 “language is not a tool that merely allows meaning to happen.  Rather, the relation between language and its users represents a complex ‘matrix of intelligibility’ that makes us readable to one another.  Language, in other words, represents a framework that constitutes both the ‘doing’ and the ‘doer’ alike: the subject always exists in a condition of relation to language that implicates the person using it, as much as the addressee – ‘we do things with language…produce effects with language, and…do things to language’ because ‘language is the thing that we do.’ (from Christina Milletti).

Much greater minds than mine have attempted to tackle this – in language, with language, to language, as well as in painting and music, film and image and architecture and dance: Who are we?  What are we?  How are we?  When?  What is?  Happening?  Basic problems of being as faced by our particular type of organism’s means of awareness: senses, perceptive apparatus, and largish brain – all inputting and outputting, inter- intra- extra- extro-putting simultaneously.

Due to our conditions, one of the stickiest problems seems insurmountable – the ability to experience (consciously) BEING.  Or NOW.  The Present.  IS-ness.

In our splendiferous operations of surviving/existing, the mechanisms and processes of doing so (predictive, inductive, deductive, collaborative, receptive, perceptive, oscillatory, responsive, reactive, self-generated, externally infringed, incited, and so on – AMAZING processes!) TAKE TIME, if only nanoseconds…all to say that our perception and/or sensation of being and existing NECESSARILY are not simultaneous to its occurrence, and yet also ARE, because the organizing and perceiving of our activity also constitutes our experiences AS they occur.

This is one of the reasons William James insists on the metaphor of “stream” for our being.

Here he writes on introspection (self-reflection, becoming conscious of consciousness, or perceiving perception – what language and symbols, signs allow, enable, concoct):

“introspecting the contents of that stream, more precisely, a particular item floating along it, interrupts the streaming, arrests the item (or objectifies), detaches and isolates it.  Let anyone try to cut a thought across in the middle and get a look at its section, and he will see how difficult the introspective observation of the transitive tracts is…As a snow-flake crystal caught in the warm hand is no longer a crystal but a drop, so, instead of catching the feeling of relation moving to its term, we find we have caught some substantive thing, usually the last word we were pronouncing, statically taken, and with its function, tendency, and particular meaning in the sentence quite evaporated.  The attempt at introspective analysis in these cases is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks.”


And is also experience, experience becoming.

As I am considering language, that is – assigning description, value, reality using symbol/sign/or index to something in human experiences – I am presenting a coming-to-terms (languaging) for myself of what I attempted (languaging) to “mean” (communicate, share, RELATE) in my off-handed comment to Tocksin regarding “wrestling with everything inhabiting our medium,” as well as an hypothesis that has been haunting me since.

“Wrestling with our medium/habitat – language” means for me in this way: As I conceive (language) the being or existence of the human organism, I interpret an organism of proactive and retroactive complex processes organizing and imputing value to its environment, selectively perceiving and constructing a context or situation in which it can get what it needs to survive.  In the scheme of things (or, its organismal specificities IN RELATION TO other organisms and contexts) the human has developed metaphoric and metonymic signification capacities for purposes of more efficient and productive navigation / survival.

Language, (or humans as semiotic beings) then is a medium in the sense of a manipulator of gaps, or a “thing” insofar as it operates between, RELATIONALLY.  Signs are always IN RELATION TO.  Inner experience, outer experience, communication, description, definition, etc…a SHARED HABITAT, an activity, indeed a primary thinking process – signing experience is a composition, exploration, examination and organizing (improvisational and purposive) of our world and our perceptual relations within experience of it.

Signing – languaging world – is for us our activity of finding out, making sense, interpreting, composing and exploring being/existing.

So when we go with purpose to the page to write language – all of this is inherent to the medium – we make our world (as we experience it) inhabit language so that we can experience it and also we inhabit language in order to experience (perceive our perceiving, become conscious of our awareness).  Language is the “stuff”(?) – the medium – the lubricant of passage between ourselves and our senses and perceptions; and everything beyond those individual sensings and perceptions.  Thinking organizes and determines experience.

So self-consciously involving ourselves in language opens up all our experience (known and unknown, much like dreams) to be wrestled with in attempting to make a poem, a story, a report, or a conversation, or, even, a thought.

That is part of what I was trying to say, Tocksin.  Part two will be the idea that has haunted me since…

Immediate sources referenced:

Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry.  U. of California Press, 2000.

R.M. Berry & Jeffrey Di Leo, editors. Fiction’s Present:Situating Contemporary Narrative Innovation. SUNY Press, 2008.

Gyorgy Buzsaki.  Rhythms of the Brain.  Oxford, 2011.

Rudolfo Llinas.  I of the vortex.  MIT Press, 2002.

William James.  Principles of Psychology.  Cambridge, 1981.


"Dialogue" monotype
by Ryan Drake, 2002

There is a tearing sound, as of something being ripped or sundered.  She has begun to speak.

He attempts to listen, as if standing on an island of a busy and multi-laned thoroughfare.  She speaks fervently, softly.

There’s the tearing.  Something rent.

He is unable to hear.  Only reverberations, a type of thrum from heavy traffic.

They are alone in an emptying room.

It is silent, but for the ripping, which also is not.


All of her aimed in his direction, what he has trouble seeing.

He attempts to look, as if through the fumes and smoke of a multi-floored building burning to collapse on the ground.

Her mouth moves gently and fierce.

He is unable to see what she says through the sound of the tearing, his searing eyes.

There are echoes, which also are not.


From a distance, things are still, as if a hobbyist set them in place.

She cries in her trying, directed at him and speaking, nearly a whisper, a message so loud.

The thrum and the shredding, the smoke.

Shifting, sifting to gather himself, redirect, organize, to attend.  He tenses himself, tightens and coils, as if a reception machine.  He is trying, crying, in a land far away.

Alone, they, the emptying room.


She’s given up, folded over, like craft paper wadded to a discarding ball.

A rivening come to its end.

He’s a radar, an instrument, powered and ready.

She falls explosively silent, unmoved.

He sees her, feels her absence arriving, he strains and he beggars the air.

Diminished and shrinking, she retracts to an inscrutable quark.

And he, aware, and alertly entire, listens and looks.