Morning Thoughts – Saturday

“If there is progress then there is a novel.”

William Carlos Williams

     You wait for it to come, grow, become.  You may be waiting forever.  Like love.

Perhaps it will visit, pass by.  You’ll notice, probably feel hopeful, or inspired.  Forlorn.

You’ll keep trying, as in waiting.  Wanting and waiting are such wrestlers.

From time to time you’ll dream.  Fantasies and nightmares.

But language will twist your words.

“Today I wrote nothing.”

Daniil Kharms

9 Notebooks

In an act of rebellion and a kind of self-serving exorcism or slate-clearing (what blog is NOT an attempt at an entity’s expression, communication?), and facing the duress of weeks burdened with commitments and inescapable responsibilities…[in other words]…I intuit I am encountering a “time” (weeks / months / foreseeable futures?) that I deduce as laden – somehow preordained – for preoccupations of employment, previously established obligations – freighted with encumberances complexly negotiated…[under pressure I compose]…and so I search for a project [as is my way] that is FOR ME[?] (something autotrophic, self-cannibalizing and nourishing at once, individually comprised and contained) an insurrection and defiance honoring self [so I surmise] facing compulsion…

…and I unearth these 9 Notebooks…all aborted undertakings from the past 12 months…via which I propose to mount mutiny by posting all that seems potentially warranted in them [upon re-reading as if the first time, long forgotten]…toward little other purpose than for purging, opening, erasing – a clearinghouse of efforts – that might evolve toward some novel substitution, unforeseen modification, development, emergence…

“this is what directs him to learning – where he may encounter fragments of his own existence,

fragments that are still within the context…”

– Walter Benjamin on Franz Kafka – 

9 Notebooks

There will be stories, concepts, poems, characters, reflections, essays…and ephemeral scraps like these…

  • think feel – attune to meaning – reflect and refract
  • befriend your body, take care with your mind
  • be gentle, be open.  move fluidly, breathe
  • go alert to your dreams
  • wish more than hope, walk don’t run, run sometimes
  • be careful of rules, they’re always changing, it’s the nature of the rule, the measure, the standard
  • keep your eyes and ears open, along with heart and mind – only let things close into pleasure and pain – and that more of a wince
  • don’t be afraid of your story – write and rewrite it, edit and revise, revise, revise, and write it again

Provisionally, some fiction


– a novel? –

We untiringly construct the world in order that the hidden dissolution, the universal corruption that governs what ‘is’ should be forgotten [Death, or its refusal] in favor of a clear and defined coherence of notions and objects, relations and forms…

-Maurice Blanchot-

Thought and writing weave an apprenticeship…

…it will not hold, meaning and words, it will not hold.

-Dan Beachy-Quick & Matthew Ghoulish-

our limited mode of access to reality

-Laurie Scheck-

The novel hurled to the ground breaks into verse and achieves a perfect synthesis

-Ben Lerner-

each page a fractured, beating thing

-Laurie Scheck-

He woke far too early, and could not back to sleep.  Even slumber.  Broken into verse.  Eyes needled with discomfort, asking for their closing, refusing to stay shut.  And her.  Her, the one pushing away, the one who woke him, the one asking him to ‘please move farther’ when there is no room.  And so he enters a deep – after a fashion, or of a sort – a sleepy sleepless land, an engagement like great fiction.

Without synthesis and not unbroken, but scattered in its way, as insomnia might be, like stars, like sky, the bewilderment of travel.  An apprenticeship in weaving.  The dreaming in the waking.  Age-old questions, rich and beautiful: unanswered.  The meaning and the words continue refusing to hold.  Something “like” that, unlikably.

our words are so light that they keep opening out into questions…

…when you affirm, you still question

-Maurice Blanchot-

The Direction of Dreams

a la Friday Fictioneers – everybody should give it a go!  Thank you Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for keeping us prompted…

copyright - Jennifer Pendergast

The Direction of Dreams

My son says he always dreams the same house, strangely enough.  Except with a spiral staircase.  The cartoon girl runs jerkily past.  Perhaps she trips, perhaps there’s a dog in the way, perhaps a lady walking with a stroller.  He doesn’t know the house, he says, but it’s always the same house.  With a spiral staircase, but not a cartoon girl.  I know she’s running though, in fits and starts, with urgency.  Something depends on her speed.  There’s a trying to get somewhere, in any direction.  And direction needs a context.  Something about dreams, spirals and speed.

N Filbert 2013

Homo Fictus

“words are not a translation of something else that was there before they were”

-Ludwig Wittgenstein-

Homo Fictus

 “Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories”

-Jonathan Gottschall-

            Knowing how / knowing why.  Procedures and structures.  Diversify and unify.  Complexity-to-simplicity turned complex all over again.  Reuse and construction.  Stories.

We are saturate with story.  Each word of that sentence.  If I provide the skeleton – you’re sure to flesh it out.   The productivity of words, the how & why of humans.

Perhaps I’ll call it “making sense,” but the sense is there before, what follows is a meaning – through procedures and structures, reuse and construction, the wired and the firing, implicity spinning explicitly – and for reasons not yet fully known, I’ve gotta have mine.

“The knowledge of good and evil, all in one.  Both. 

Somebody finally said, I know my own mind.”

-Janet Kauffman-

            Experience is a complex collision I diversify and unite.  Following patterns infused by my own.  If you provide a list of observations and complaints, I may spend entire days reorganizing them – they didn’t quite “fit.”  Perhaps I’ll throw them back.  I’d like to be certain.

“the absence of doubt is of the essence of a language-game”

-Ludwig Wittgenstein-

            A personalized language-game full of cues, thesauri and symbols – my controlled vocabulary meshing your data…

“The alphabet of my DNA shapes certain words, but the story is not told.

I have to tell it myself.

What is it I have to tell myself again and again?

That there is always a new beginning, a different end.

I can change the story.  I am the story.


-Jeanette Winterson-

            …ah, now I’ve figured it out (made it fit  my form) – this is my story now, please listen and confirm (complexity-simplicity) – oh no?  you don’t? (complexity again) and back to the storyboards or diary…

The yearn is toward some balance, stasis, surety.  Re-cognizable re-currency.  Re-presentation.  Re-anything.  Want familiar.  The excitement may very well come with the disruptions, eruptions, defamiliarization, the constant change – it certainly heightens our senses and intension – the thrill is in the thunderous gathering of troops – flickering flashing neurons – dogs set on the intrusion…but soon we stabilize the perimeter again…incorporate the drama…

“the important thing is to consider the significance of things and not to worry about their authenticity…it’s difficult to tell at the end of the day whether it was theory or need that got you through it.”

-Joy Williams-

            …with our stories (and lies)…our illusory perceptions…needing organized to our organism…and tales are conjured, fiction begins, typing on our limited keys…

…even while the body’s at rest…

“in short, nothing so central to the human condition is so incompletely understood”

-Jonathan Gottschall-

this post inspired in part by

Unspoken Fragments

Through someone else’s blog award list I recently discovered The Dream Journal Today – a remarkable blog straightforwardly recounting dreams.  It has stimulated me to pay more attention to what my brain is doing in its “off-hours.”  The post regarding my longing for knowledge of my father is such a result, as is the following post, gathered through the past night.  I have the hunch my psychophysiology works over emotion when I’m out…something my waking mind deters.  Whatever the case, I have found the ritual to be as intriguing as working with photo-prompts to dislodge other-conscious concerns, and recommend it to writers everywhere as a kind of exercise in translation.

Thrown on my back as from a jungle gym – panicked in the way of breath-smashed bodies.  Helpless then, disempowered.

Lying next to you in our warm nest of bed, nose and right eye microscopically near the flesh of your chest – the sharp distinction of its tattoo’s inky night and the blemishless cream covering your major pectorals.

I see it falling, the exploding crush of a thick plate of glass the size of a small wall and maybe four inches thick – variegated and stained – slicing and dicing my face with the stories you don’t share.

The night is full of phrases.  Intimacies shredded by the unspoken, the secrets.  A literal compaction of my face in bloodied fragments – the world a shattered windshield.

Sleeping fitfully you deliver direct language through the dark.  “This is wrong and this is wrong and this is wrong…with you.”  I don’t remember details, only that I’m broken like a vase of porcelain on the floor of an empty manor.

The decompression and drainage, the fracturing damage of all you hold apart.  Discommunication.  What is withheld.  The feeling of what happens when I supply the captions to your silence.


“What is fiction after all, if not a kind of purposeful dreaming?”

-Jonathan Franzen-

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

This one developed into a series.  My wife’s art works are all about the house and I move them here and there for various inputs/effects on my brain as I work…She recently hung a few encaustic pieces in our dining room where I have been writing due to the heat in our studio attic.  For “dreaming” I’d had the idea that I’d challenge myself with my Pantech phone and try to take some pictures of my head and smear it up without help from photoshop or other treatments.  It grew into a little series, beginning with her pieces and their slow consumption of my world.

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Such Great Heights

Such Great Heights: On Loving

“I wonder at vocalism’s ability to rephrase or reenact meaning and goodness even without the wished-for love.  Can a trace become the thing it traces, secure as ever, real as ever – a chosen set of echo-fragments? … The still eye reflects a neutral ‘you’ that is me; and yet secret.  Who can hold such mirroring cheap?  It’s a vital aspect of marriage and of deep friendship.”

-Susan Howe-

            These are things she told me:

She tells me she just needs to be held.  Held and heard.  And validated.  That I understand how she feels, that I empathize.  No need to agree with her or her feelings, no need to fix anything.  Just pay attention (“be with me” she calls it), say some things back kind of like echoes so she can hear that I’m listening, knows I’ve “got” it, and nod and affirm.  Saying things like “I hear how hard that is for you,” or “I can see this makes you angry” and the like.  A safe place, a sounding board, a kind of mirroring…a world-the-size-of-arms or bodies in which it’s okay to be in process, to have your stuff, to be inaccurate, and be.

I tell her I just want to be loved for who I am, not what I do or how I perform, whether I make someone feel better or not, whether I’m useful or succeed, get stronger, am sensitive, smart or good-looking.  I’m fine with being any of those things, but they will always feel like side-effects or attributes, things taken up from time to time, situation-contextually.  I really want to be loved for who I am also, or otherwise, the self I do not know, am unaware of, except that it’s always changing.  I’m wanting value as a being, I suppose, that it’s simply good enough, and matters, that I am.  That someone would choose that.

She’d like to be appreciated for all of her efforts.  All the pains she endures, compromises she makes, limitations she accepts in order to account for me, for my “neuroses” (read “personality”).  ‘d like to hear a heartfelt “thank you” now and then for her services and sensitivities, considerations and workings toward dialogue, care and attention.  She’d like to be recognized, feel wanted, feel loved and craved and adored.

I’d like to be loved with my spaces and misgivings.  From a distance, and the distance loved too – the whole globe of me – my fears, paranoias and worries.  My anxious body.  Jealous narratives, fantastic brain.  As an entity – yes – as a system or sphere, to be chosen, sought out and let be, even celebrated as this odd, unique and difficult human, just like all the others, but different too, in exactly the same ways we all of us are.  A curious realm of unknowns and effects.  Would like that cloud of debris I refer to as “me” to trigger charges in her, of desire, of respect, of wonder and intimate knowledge.  A paradox really.  To be known as unknown, loved dissimilarly, absolutely, and so on.  Misplaced desires, but there all the same.  I ask her to love indeterminacy and confusion.

She asks to be free of her past – not its effects but its definitions.  That we encounter it together – our childhoods and children, our spouses and griefs, our risks and our failures, fulfillments and joys – not compared with the present, competitively, but engaged, encouraged, absorbed.  That not everything “not-me” be a threat, not her job and its clients, her acquaintances, family and friends, past lovers our journeys, events – that they be welcomed and included as ours now – memories, sources, realities we bring to a NOW.  Not as distractions, escapes, private holdings.  That we invite each other whole and unprocessed.  That we be a process for each.  That I be here now with, see her moving toward me, being here, not fragment and dissect her into her pasts and the world.

I tell her I’d like to be ultimate, her be-all, end-all, preference and ideal.  Chaos and all, that this mass of me be some divinity-like, awe-inspiring wonder of an incomparable glory she adore and pursue.  I want to feel special, holy, set apart, unbelievably brilliant and beautiful – in short, spectacular – in all my grungy messy remedial ways and blundering battles.  That it truly stun her how amazing I am all muddied up and crazy, insecure and inconsistent, incompatible and at serious odds with myself – that I be wonderful to her.

She told me she’d like it to be real.  To be purposive and true.  That we be brave and open, vulnerable and strong.  Flexible and protective, guarded and unafraid.  That we feel life securely and take great risks, be certain and unsure.  That we trust and be trustworthy in every metamorphoses we move through.  Tenderly powerful, gently fierce, insistent and forgiving, patiently intense.  That we strive for balance, a balance I guess like nuclear fusion – unaccountable energies in a strangely held rest.

I said it all sounds good, sounds like love to me, and impossible.  Which is fine as I’ve started as a failure, but heroic, and she’s a god arose from ashes.  Hell, she’s died and lived again.  We latch on, strap in and unwind.  We are here.  Here we go.  These terrible chasms and such great heights.

These are things I tell myself.

N Filbert 2012

(couldn’t help but think of this – click for tunes)