Haunted Man

[from a crumpled writing found under a car seat among additional trash, transposed to typing as a record of a mind’s mayhem and mistakes]

“Deliver me, prays the haunted man.  Therefore…”

Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal

I am Dostoevsky and I am Beckett.  I am Hegel and Heidegger and Holderlin.  I am Kafka.

I am not good enough for any of you.  I do not merit your time nor your attention, affection, sensibilities, your human talents, or your care… no conceivable reason to mention “love.”

But I love you.  I am the one who loves you.  The one who writes.  Who writes these words.  The haunted one, the Reader, the Librarian; the Lover, Scholar, I am me.  I love you.  I am haunted.  Words runnel through me, and with them thoughts, and with them feelings, and with them meanings, which means…nothing.  No matter, no space, no time.

The “haunted man” is a passage, a passing, a ‘type.’  Of no import, little reality, barely occurrence.

*

I am Blanchot, am Homer, am divine Scriptures, and Shakespeare.  Simply, small-ly, in my own way, this very general way, I am what humans do with language.  For one another, with one another, to one another, as.

*

Yards and houses, flesh and voices, signs and symbols, marks and sounds, music and rhythyms and gestures, as attempts to conjoin – join and connect – survive, discover, endure, be, become, in-volve… With no idea.  Or ideas that continually prove false and faulty.  Elaborate records of revision, perhaps better inscribed as simple songs of effort.  Urges only TO BE, and that, TO BE CONNECTED.

But what do I know?  I’m Pythagoras, call me Ishmael or Ahab, Everyman or Whatever.  I’m out-dated.  Assign me a number.  I don’t really care.  I really care.  I am here, and I, (at least) re-present, or present again, or presence, a sort of being.  Such as it is… with no “REAL” way to evaluate, estimate, “tell,” or “express.”

*

Satan, then, Jesus, Joyce, Proust, Alexander.  No matter, no space, no time, only IS.

A “tradition” (as it were, in our own words).  We.  Its + That + This.  US.  Humans strangely (apparently) in environments.  These ways of thinking, of being, of behaving and operating, of supposedly surviving (but with what evidence?  WHO or WHAT might know?).

How might elements arranged thus & so, survive?  I am Nebuchadnezzar, Mohammed, Hammurabi and Ishtar.  I am ab-original.

I am Nothing.  Everything.  No one.  Me.

Each time.

Each press of the pen: “Hello – ‘here’”

*

As simply as I can construct it (all of it, any of “it”) it goes something like this: accidents occur, accidents are weird, and accidents give way.

I, like all other(s), an accidental novel.  Occasional and Whatever.

WHAT HAPPENS TO BE… at any given point-of-measurement (i.e. as far as we have a capacity to render, sunder, and effect – “Reality” (for us)).  Some quirky, unlikely, ridiculous, painstaking, odds-massively-against, and over-dramatic assessment of a certain sort of being-in, being-with, co-occurrence, happen-stance, we fabricate “human.”

TO BE SOMETHING

(organism, constituent, element, participant, activity)

*

In many other words (for the sake or ability of ‘them,’ ‘it,’ ‘all’) I may as well be.  Be Hallie or Ollie or Aidan or Rhesus.  Chief Joseph or Samson or Ghandi or Jordan.  Be you or Sara or Maya or Jimmy John.

“no matter.  Try again.  Fail again…” no matter.

THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

“the venom of the serpents were within him”

Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal

HOW SHOULD I KNOW?

*

And so what if I were Bernhard or Bach, Napoleon, Attila, Montaigne or Dorothy Parker?  If I had the ammunition or energy (and weaponry?) – the rhetoric, the nerve, or the madness.  L. Sterne, Nagarjuna, Hafiz, JL Borges?

“No matter.  Try again.  Fail again…”

Titian, Beethoven, Plato/Socrates, Palestrina.  Michelangelo, V. van Gogh, and Chuang Tzu.  You.

“No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.”

(hardly Beckett)

A Possible Paradox for Ida

“To tell the truth” always requires a certain amount of fabrication!  Lying is natural, comes of itself”

-Paul Valery, Monsieur Teste-

Enough is known to know I will not know it.  Know what?, I am able to ask.  What I don’t know.  Enough is known to know that.

That’s leaving aside the forgetting and confusion.  The shaky content of what I barely, and rarely, know (retain or recall) of what supposedly I “know” already.  Ever slipping, fragmenting, recombining, sieving in and out of my “experience.”  All mostly a matter of hearsay, of reading and listening, of the saying-so of others, of instruction, of my own perception and interpretive intrigue.  Nothing known for certain, only “known” in certain ways, at certain times, simply operable and opportunistic, happenstance conflagrations, bastardized convergences.  My “knowledge.”

On occasion, per occasion, one might say I “know” something.  I must “know” to utilize paper and pen, a share in the language to be scribbling these terms, an awareness of others who might recognize them – words and marks to read and write, perhaps to say…

…on occasion.

Per occasion, it sometimes seems to function – these words, these sounds, these marks and referents, inventions – at times, in places… per occasion.

Enough to know there is not much known, and that, occasionally.

In many situations even what is written above would be to no effect.  Unknown or unknowable, misunderstood and mis-taken, discombobulating.

On occasion I have thought that I was coming to know.  A thing or two.  (“When the mind has put a thing through a certain number of transformations, it can only let go of it.  A ‘thing’ is that which can undergo such treatments without becoming unrecognizable.” – Paul Valery).  Some equation, expression, a certain order of words or section of world, apparent communicable system or game, even familiarity with so-signified “facts.”

Enough to know I did not know what I thought I knew.  Per occasion.

Contradiction.  Non-transference.  Con-fusion.  My “knowing” as some idiosyncratic amalgam of language and what is called “experience,” or moving about and within an environment, participant, (of which language constitutes such large part – whether gestures, ideas, dialect, signs or names – yet apparently also extending beyond and outside of language – the ‘unsayable’ – or so it is said – “We can do something to what does not exist: we can name it” – Valery), all of which, when tested by or combined with further, other, subsequent and/or prior language + experience… dissolves into significant doubt and is put into question (experience), per occasion.

In other words, what appears to be “knowledge” is a continuous process of revision, correction, and extension, according to occasions or events.

An example: a “fact” is announced: “2+2=4.”  Ocean & mountains + Nathan & raft = 4.  Ida & Oliver + Dad & home = 4.  A snake & a number + a planet & drought = 4.  A dead horse & winter storm + a beard & a fire = 4.  Each designation unequal.  Two persons, two environments, two numbers, two perspectives, two experiences (and so on…) 4 wildly differing worlds (experiences, occasions).  Any pair of designated elements + any pair of anything else = factually four diverse realities.  Experience and language are uncountable, as every portion abstracted to “count” or “measure” is untrue.  The facts are counterfactual.  It is said that in some realm or practice designations may be calculated as torn from experiences and occasions and language – as abstract systems.  But in what “realms?”  What realms do not arise in messy, fuzzy, occasional experience?  In fact, there are no accounts, records, calculations, or reports – all such verbs and activities necessitating “occasions” and/or “experiencing” – to be.

It tempts me to say “nothing is known” (for certain) but that reads a lot like a statement of knowledge.

Dear daughter of paradoxes: is this a paradox?  “If I have certain knowledge it is the knowledge that I know nothing for certain”?  or, “It is certain that knowledge is uncertain”?

I am not sure.

Report: Beginning from the Endless End: A Community of Thinking: The Experience of the European Graduate School

Apply Now: Begin your MA/PhD this Summer 2016 in Saas-Fee, Switzerland

Report: Beginning from the Endless End: A Community of Thinking: The Experience of the European Graduate School

“the center of thought is that which does not let itself be thought”

– Maurice Blanchot

Perhaps a community. 

A community “risking a fragile resilience” (Philip Beesley).

“Distinguishing the indistinguishable.”  “Compatible Incompatibilities.”  “The Origin is Empty.”  “The path to truth is truth itself.”  “More than 1, less than 2.”  We are always with without. 

I feel rich, calm, a sense of belonging.  And loss.  In my second year of a PhD program at the European Graduate School, nestled far and away in the Swiss Alps, in the canton of Saas-Fee.  It is June, it is chilly, high, quiet, separate.  Far from the searing plains of Kansas.  Far from my employment, my partner, my children.  Far from domestic duties and sustaining (endless) chores.  Removed, set apart, drawn up to the mountains, the rivers, the snow.  Another language, an other culture, a situation of difference.

Mladen Dolar, following many great others, tells us we must “slow our temporality.”  That we can “only do philosophy if we pretend to have all the time in the world.”  How could this be done within the everyday?

It feels monastic almost.  30-40 humans from all over the world gathered to hear, speak, inquire and reflect.  Many silences.  All impassioned by the above – the difficult work, accidental work, error-filled work of “distinguishing the indistinguishable” finding “compatible incompatibilities,” facing the “empty origins,” and setting onto the path that has no end, in the risk of a “bad infinity” – of selecting or creating or imagining impossible tasks and eternally postponing them, finding no conclusions, resolutions, foundations – everything put into question, everything problematized, intervened – “the truth is mediation, a passage.”  The happening, the process, of thinking.  So we believe.  And so we gather.  With eminent leaders, guides, mentors (for example, this session: Slavoj Zizek, Helene Cixous, Philip Beesley, Christopher Fynsk, Mladen Dolar, Jean-Luc Nancy, Keller Easterling, Chris Kraus, Alenka Zupancic, Benjamin Bratton, Werner Hamacher, Anne Carson…and more…).  We hear from them, we question, we think with them, think FOR other thought drawn toward us (Hegel, Aristotle, Plato, Heidegger, Foucault, Lacan, Freud, Deleuze, Blanchot, Spinoza, Holderlin, Goya, Beckett, and on…).  What lives, what continues in our seemingly endless end.  What might in-form and unsettle us, what might disturb and enliven us, how we might change-in-relation, again and again and again…

To “take all the time in the world” for 30 days.  To read closely.  To be overwhelmed.  To exhaust.  To end again and again, to fail in hopes to fail better.  To “start in a bad way, in order to arrive in the good.”  The process and problems.  Our “selves” in becoming, the one and the two and the many – always with lack.  Negativity, absence.  “Nothing is identical to itself.”  The “greatest order and disorder exist as one.”  “Constancy is slipperiness and change.”  How do we dwell there and evince.  How do we act to find out?  There is always the other, another, a lack that we seek.  That is nothing, just lack.  Drives and desires and neuroses.  The community of thinkers.

Some of us question “what is wrong with us?”  Why a surplus enjoyment of troubling existence?  Why identities founded on nothing?  “Philosophy always arrives too late” (Hegel).  We can only begin at the ends.  Against nothing.  Yet toward.  And it is here I feel valued.  Here recognized.  Here is a home.  I belong.  In a timelessness of knowing in time.  An everywhere of nobodies anywhere.  Senses replete with mountains and rain.  Clear air and short breaths.  An absence of tasks.  Singular tasks.  Monumental tasks (for me).  That need all of the time in the world.  Are all of the time of the “world”.  Senseless letters.  Turbulent being.  In media res – in the middle of things – when outside already inside, inside where something’s always left out.

My collegiate journals from decades ago are riddled in their margins with: “to be the writer of loss,” “to be the philosopher of grey,” “to compose absence.”  A longing for empty origins since thinking began.  Repetition.

I walk for the body to process.  I dream of sharp thorns in my feet, of lost items, of absence and language and two shades of grey.  Rain comes through the clouds in the fog.  “The end is in the beginning, and yet you go on,” “My mistakes are my life,” – Samuel Beckett.  And so, and yet, I go on.  Intensively, demandingly, having “nothing to write, having no means to write it, and being forced by an extreme necessity to keep writing.” – Maurice Blanchot.

I miss those I hold nearest.  And I love them – how indecipherable the term – further description annuls it.  To say the unsaid or unsayable.  I am confused and elated.  Inspired and exhausted.  Drawn forward through despair.  And I love this experiencing.  It belongs.

“If nothing were substituted for everything, it would still be too much and too little.”
― Maurice BlanchotThe Writing of the Disaster

 

Alias and the World of Ten Thousand Things

The basics of their story are as follows:

  • there was a wedding
  • nearly a year later, a honeymoon
  • followed by her father’s swift, surprising death
  • succeeded by the loss of a child

and the presence of a curious cat.

The basics of his story are as follows:

  • there is a woman
  • he has many sorrows and passions
  • there are children involved
  • he is poor
  • from a distance his life’s deemed “ideal”

the cat’s name is “Fractal” or “Luna,” a.k.a “Predicate Isabitch.”

His sorrow lay in the pace of things.  Both what there is, and what there is not.

No matter the fortunate outcomes, or happy resolutions, his reckoning turns it to grief [perhaps in the manner of Werther] – a “bent,” a “perception,” or “filter.”

Turns to literature and texts of all kinds, from the dead – in near religious belief [nigh Fundamentalist fashion] that they bring joy or consistent melancholy satisfactions.

Alias Harlequin is sick and he’s dying – he knows it.

He lies at the end of his rope.  STOP.

Impression alters there.  Import and significances warp.

Some things that seem pressing, dissolve.  Don’t matter the same, at the ends.

Will occur, and pass by, to negligible consequence.  Comparatively.

Other happenings seem to reveal profound differance.

True import (such an intimate, idiosyncratic affair).  Nothing true, yet perhaps only.

Alias sits at his perch on his porch, calculating.

What’s the matter (for the head, and the hand, and the heart)?

While Laramie stumbles at camp on a rock.  And he falls.

We don’t (always) know what we need when we’re down…but (sometimes) we know what we don’t…

from the Ruled Writing Tablet

ruled writing tablet

Interstice

I told her that I would have told her, had I known.

-“Known what, exactly?” she said, “Really!?” she said.

Yes, I said, yes, I would have explained what I felt I understood – about the “interstice” – what I felt I understood, I would have said.

As usual, the sighs, the diverted glances, the “I-don’t-knows.”

It’s alright.  I’m pretty used to it, not that it no longer hurts, or squashes some part of me, but familiarity breeds…and it’s not contempt, at least for me.  More like resolve, or, well, I don’t know.

Still I would have conversed about the “interstice.”  Or its plural.  No one can know what we’re talking about (in my opinion) – that’s why we talk (in my opinion).  But I do like to look at her.  And sometimes keep talking so that I can look at her longer.

Thus I would have explained – or attempted to – about the “interstice”… had I known, I tell her.

– “Known what, exactly?” she asked, “Really!?”

It’s ok.  I’m pretty used to it – exasperation.  It’s a sort of fatigue that settles on my interlocutors – my family, my friends, my lovers, my children – as I triple/quadruple/undendingly (exponentially?) second (meaningless term in this context) guess whatever it is (emotion, idea, memory, event) I attempt to convey.

I find I do not trust a thing as long as it might be questioned, and I have yet to discover something unquestionable.  I like inventing titles though.

She’s looking at me – softly, sadly, gently.  Sometimes she strokes my hair and lets me rest my head (the physical part).  It helps.  But the rest doesn’t rest.

Fair enough, for the most part, I’m used to it.  It’s “me” (as we are wont to say) – what I’m accustomed to.  It doesn’t matter, or does in unquantifiable ways, but I keep at it.  Anyway.  I can’t help it.  Well, some things do – vodka, sex, sleep – but only temporarily.

Things are only temporary.

That’s the sort of idea that keeps me alive.  Temporarily.  And second-(exponentially)-guessing.

Interstices1

She’s still there, here, though.  Hence the interstice.  I try to explain.

*

As if “interstice” possessed a meaning, a definition, beyond the moment I activated or utilized it.  As if it indicated.  Meant – convergence-point (limitless above and below and around) of time and space conventions in a realm that felt (seemed) shared.  Held in common.  Nothing is “held,” or only temporarily.  Changed with its containment.  It seems.  I don’t know.  It’s certainly questionable – is it, ‘certainly’?

I don’t know.  Which I thought, or think, is the entry to wisdom, but even that – I don’t know.

She’s still here.  And I question – Who is it?  Who is still here?  And what for?  How? Why?

And where is the vibrating “here”?  And what for, how &/or why?  I can wonder.

– “Wonder what, exactly?” she inquires.

I don’t know.  I’m a human.  An odd conundrum of pieces and parts that correspond or reciprocate in hold-together activities for a while…call it “organism,” there’s that, it would seem, but seem only, digging in it is hard to convince or confirm – a location, identity, consistency, avocation or being.  It’s just so – apparently – temporarily.

Exasperation.  You see?  You dig?  What I mean!?  That’s what we’re after (together, I think) what it means.  But what that means is uncertain, I think or surmise.  We don’t know, it would seem, we’re uncertain.

We ask.

The Loving(?) [dis]Organization of Fire

for lispector

“and it came, with its long passageways without end”

-Clarice Lispector, Soulstorm

and then again, the words, the words they came, presently, fluently, astonishingly as miracles, your body, the languid haunches – temptations, always – your breasts – these letters, formed in the hands…you, you, you, all of you, and I want/ed, I want, I am wanting to grapple, devour and subsume, consume (no, never!) you, but utterly – to the end – to everything – a swallow and fire and drowning and drought – to eviscerate, desiccate, absorb – to thorough you. I want to thorough.  I want to you, thoroughly.  Yes, that is what.  That is the who what am I?  The always when and every how – I want you thoroughly, but not you as realized by or digested in or taken or given or experienced thoroughly (without remainder) but rather

What I am saying (without remainder) What I mean is, what I am saying, shouting, quite silently shrieving, shrieking, screeing, WHAT I CRAVE REVEALING ENTIRELY BY RAVAGING TO END…

I WANT TO YOU.

And I want you to want to me, as mad, as madly, as terribly and

I am ravenous now, each instant and you for starving for me (I’d like that – have me)

but yes and I am having taking giving receiving AND YOU.

I do not understand.

It maddens, controls,

frees.

And this is what I mean.

In hopes that I was born for this…

for Hallie

“telling a story means tracing your finger through the ashes left by the fires of experience” – alvaro enrigue

I love drawing from the world – almost anything, almost everything – ingesting, sensing, feeling, digesting (transforming, processing) into me to pass it on again.

I love the encounter of humans – frightening, fragile things – the desire and revulsion our fullness brings.

Hope.  Dread.

I hope to be loved and wanted.

I dread the opposite.

As if it were about me.

As if there were a thousand suns

And we were one of them

 

Time doesn’t work that way.

It’s been called an arrow

but it’s likely not –

likely wrinkled, warped and bent –

just like us

giving life to it.

Love is like this.

Like our memories.

 

I remember clearly what is incorrect –

if anything’s erected so.

I doubt it,

along with me and you and everything else…

 

just enough to believe.

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”

 

Decisions

A quick response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, a quirky, multi-faceted, and wonderfully open collective of writers from all over the globe riffing their words to an image – a weekly task I am thankful for, and company I admire.  So, from the midst of this holiday week in N. America, something:

And Yet

Mom is right.  It is hard to deny that something points a clear direction, unambiguously, and difficult to argue.  But for reasons I’m at pains to reveal or explain, I am uneasy.  Seriously, I couldn’t ask for a more definite sign – but is clarity everything?  I mean, what about signals from below?  Like how I feel?  Or that strange uninterpretable “intuitive” stuff?   Something isn’t right.  As if I were standing at an intersection without a crossroad, a highway with no exits, opened out before me, shining bright.  And yet.  I have misgivings, doubts.  Troubling the obvious. Are all exceptions exhausted?  Every option foreclosed?  Pressure is on, expectations real – I’ll be a laughing idiot to choose otherwise.  And yet.  And yet.  I have the feeling it will end in a horrible guffaw.

N Filbert 2012

I, in instances of jell-o

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I, in instants, divested

 

Let me put it this way:  I find mysterious pockets of habitual thinking functioning like cradles of jell-o.

Say couple’s therapy is called for: I consciously feel gung-ho, pro-choice, empowered by trust and intention and reciprocal hope.  Our determination, our hope.  But the rear half of my skull, the scape my subject lands in, I realize is slicky, silently and squishily snuggling into a jello-y bed of “there’s something wrong with me.  I’ve got the problems.  We’re really trying to figure out why I’m so hard to live with; how my moods impede relational success and happiness; my fears – intimacy.  If the truth were told, my spouse is acting graciously and sacrificially in order to get me help.”  It’s as natural as instinct for me to believe I’m a burden, a difficulty, a special case.

The endless desires of youth.  Our adolescents seem never to be satisfied (perhaps aren’t even “meant” – biologically, psychologically, socially, developmentally – to be), rarely “up” for family events or participation in chores, games or outings.  Seem preoccupied with themselves and their wants and preferences, shifts and swerves.  Rationally – I sense the raging hormones; the violent ego-mania seeking a code, a reflection, its own DNA; the psychoses of self/other, boy/girl, love/lust and so forth – upheaval and growth!  But my torso is wiggling and sliding itself into the slushy comfort of “I have no idea how to guide these kids!  Who am I to parent and protect, encourage and inspire?  I’m just as fragmented, uncertain, conflicted, aroused and cynical as these guys!  No way I’m good enough, strong enough, wise enough, and so on… unqualified to father, even at directing myself!”

The list goes on – as reader, writer, artist.  As male, friend, laborer.  As handyman, citizen, spouse.  As mind, as body, as conglomerate selves:

How does it come so natively to cuddle in, automatically, unself-consciously and familiarly into negative perceptions, fraught with inadequacy, victimhood and failure, with no perpetrator(s) to blame?

Ideologically, philosophically, linguistically, aesthetically, psychologically, and so on, I can adapt party lines and mottos of health, truth, justice, fallibility and courage; equality and imperfection; becoming and process,

but wherever this social solidarity is not called-for or aimed at, this prompting to blend toward community or “normalcy,” my actual mind-body-complex demonstrates an incredible proclivity to nestle and burrow into a gooey surround of personal suspicion and doubt, misgivings and cynicism…like a worm to mud, or a fossil its imprint.

What the I/eye prefers.

How we see what we see.

How something – something – (but what is it?!)

contradicts mind’s understanding and body’s sensation/perception/evidence and goes its own hellbent way in whatever direction it selects!?

I-cipher.

I-estrangement.

I-observer,

                                                            for instants,

for instance.