writing instruments

Even if it’s only a prologue, it is necessary to begin.  To start with the starting itself.  Some origins are good at that: a bang, a blast, a whisper.

My starts tend to happen with fits.  Inconsistent and occasional, not inceptions, revelations, events.

Supposing it begins in a “mood” and emerges at pen.  Or simply pass by.  Aborted, forgotten.  The pen is what matters, not me.

Swerving from mood to mood, idea / experience, relation / response, passaging effect to affect to effect.  Hardly recognizable.  Yet if the pen is involved, or some other artifact-creator, symbol-maker, discretionary device, a remnant emerges, a record, a trace.

Never the mood itself, not even the experience, but some marker of it, a token or emblem, remains.

Starting with the loss then.  Beginning at the bones.

There’s a boon to that, you see.  It ceases to be important: what the where.  Beginning with the pen, it doesn’t matter.  Memory, emotion or event.  Past, presence or future.  All of those – NO MATTER.  But the instrument – the tools ready-to-hand – typewriter, pencil, keyboard or pen = matter.  Some thing happens then: it begins.

Now it’s started.  Starting with the starting also leads (you must perceive).  If the aim is the action itself, the rest does follow.  Hand leading eye, leading ink, following line, copying language, searching the words, shaping the letters, changing ideas (using different terms), evoking a thought, altering memory, writing a process: a process called “writing.”  A particular animal scraping at paper with ink.

It happens.


Follows, outstrips, and results.  Always something greater and lesser, more-than / deprived, exactly inaccurate.

Ambiguous and real.  Using language.

“A ‘beginning’ is something other than a ‘commencement’.  A new weather pattern, for example, begins with a storm.  Its commencement, however, is the complete change of air conditions that brings it about in advance.  A beginning is the onset of something; a commencement is that from which something arises or springs forth…

…Whoever begins many things often never attains a commencement.”

–Martin Heidegger, “Holderlin’s Hymns”

Heidegger - Holderlins Hymns

The Lovers Encyclopedia: or, Notes Toward Unlimited Signs

Gilbert Quote

Notes on an Encyclopedia of Signs: or, Limited Vocabularies, Limitless Meanings

“Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.”

“All entities move and nothing remains still”

“Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream”

-Heraclitus of Ephesus-

“No man ever steps in the same river twice.”  No man ever steps the same into a river.  I believe that everyone, from time to time, aches to express what they mean.  We have experiences and we want to communicate them, and we experience a kind of veritable torment when nothing sounds, feels, expresses what we “mean” “quite right” (or adequately, authentically, completely, correctly).

How often this happens with joy, pleasure, desire, love.  There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.  We shuffle and arrange them, add and delete, realign and recompose, punctuate and intone, mark-up, highlight, capitalize, emphasize, crescendo/decrescendo, lilt, shout, whisper the sounds and shapes we have mediated them through in this wild, often urgent attempt to forge understanding BETWEEN, comprehension, connection… MEANINGS (whole-person exchanges) betwixt ourselves and others, and world.

Our bodies have limited surfaces.  Certain numbers of organs, neurons, veins, muscles – motions, sensations, pulses, breaths, hums and groans.  We TOUCH to forge BETWEEN.  Caresses, grasps, pushes, pulls and entanglings.  WE ACHE TO GET ACROSS – adequately, authentically, comprehensively, fully.

“I love this pizza.”  “I have never seen anything like this!”  “OMG – watch that sky as it changes, explodes, implodes, whirls, colors!”  “I have never experienced love like this.”  “You are the most beautiful person I’ve ever known.”  “This is my favorite song.”  “You are incomparable.”  “You are incomparable.”  Our experiences – each – are in some very real sense… INCOMPARABLE.

And space.  And time.  Matter and energy, or material / apparently immaterial.  Emotion and sensation.  Cognition and affect.  We are ALWAYS (all of us) stepping in the river, and the river is always (all of it) flowing.  EVERY instant is our constant moving IN and WITH the constant moving of the world.

It hurts.  I look at, listen to, interact with, FEEL toward, receive from, snuggle, caress, kiss, desire, weep, converse with my current romantic partner – aching every time to express how additive, emergent, unique, INCOMPARABLE these NOW-experiences WITH her vary from, extend, surprise, fulfill, astound, affect, estrange from any other – and bewilder my ability to communicate them… because I have said “I love this pizza” a million times.  I have lost my breath at the views from a hundred mountain-tops.  I have gasped at four crashing oceans.  I have whimpered from the all-over expenditure of orgasm many times.  My fingers have disbelieved themselves and been overwhelmed by a life of plants, animals, surfaces and human fleshes.  “My favorite pie” has happened again and again and again – never the same me, never the same pie.  Down to my cells, my molecules, my quarks.

My love and I have imagined a new symbology.  Each time we ache to speak our love we will scramble new squiggles, letters, symbols, scratchings in order to designate:  THIS IS NOT LIKE BEFORE – I know I said it moments ago – BUT THIS IS SOMETHING MORE/OTHER/ PARTICULATED and specific from that.  This is NOW-LOVE, new and familiar, distinct and embodying all the particles prior.  There are not enough symbols.  Not enough sense.

Mikhail Bakhtin and any number of other thinkers, artists, poets, anthropologists (von Uexkull, Heidegger, William James, Charles Peirce, Paul Bains, Erin Manning, John Poinsot, John Deely, Paul Kockelman, Humberto Maturana, etc. etc. etc.) have attempted to unpack this strange tangle.  Poets and writers throughout history (as witnessed via Heraclitus at the start of this little assay), musicians, painters, explorers, historians – HUMANS have suffered, hurt, ached at this paradox of limitation and adequacy for expressing WHAT I MEAN / WHAT’S HAPPENING FOR ME NOW / throughout the life of our species.

The gist of it:  our bodies and vocabularies are VERY limited in relation to the never-ending changing and flood and flow of our relation to the world and others.  26 letters and 20 digits, a circumscribable surface of skin, a rate of cognition, a dictionary of emotions… never the same human stepping in never the same river.  This is where Bakhtin, et. al. assist us.  What language we’ve agreed on, what musical forms and sounds, what movements we are capable of, what gestures, groans, inflections, pressures of touch, coos and growls, whispers and howls – YES they are woefully limited to represent the vast variations of each NOW experience – with THIS person, THIS landscape, THIS particular food, THIS hearing of a song, THIS sunset, THIS ocean, THIS child, THIS reading – we repeat and repeat and repeat (in a kind of repulsive ad nauseum).  We proclaim our love as powerfully as we know how… and find we wrote the same thing to another person in a letter 15 years ago.  We massage and wriggle and lick and devour in lovemaking in a way we mean to be so particular to THIS passion, THIS relation, THIS other – and it mimics our gripping and caressing and kissing and intercourse of many other times, other passions, other relations, other others.  It hurts.

Bakhtin et. al. indicate that the MEANING is limitless.  That in order to communicate, each BETWEEN must be understood in the Heraclitean sense – WE ARE NOT IDENTICAL to ourselves – ever – and THIS EXPERIENCE being had is NOT IDENTICAL to any other – ever – our means of expression, our vocabularies for communication, our bodily capacities and emotive apparatus ARE LIMITED… but the meanings we create interacting with the world are not.  The MEANINGS ONLY OCCUR BETWEEN and AS we (ever-unique and different) participate, interact, engage one another and world (ever-unique and changing) … To comprehend the sometimes repulsive, apparently restrictive and woefully repetitive MEANS OF EXPRESSION we have and its FELT INADEQUACY to the new, unique, differentiated EXPERIENCE WE ACHE TO EXPRESS – would rely on the mutual understanding that EACH EXPRESSION WITH  COMPOSES NEW MEANING.

Our efforts, compulsions, desires, tastes, affections, pleasures, joys, hurts – EXPERIENCE – IS AUTHENTIC and GENUINELY NEW and DIFFERENT every moment – the means we have of COMMUNICATING, EXPRESSING, CONNECTING these experiences IS LIMITED and REPETITIVE – but we need not doubt the LIMITLESS CAPACITY FOR MEANING SOMETHING FRESH, AUTHENTIC, GENUINE, TRUE that each of those repeated words, phrases, emotions, gestures, interactions have… because…

“Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.”

“All entities move and nothing remains still”

“Everything changes and nothing remains still … and … you cannot step twice into the same stream”

-Heraclitus of Ephesus-

We are a species of limited vocabularies, a constrained encyclopedia…

in a world of limitless meanings

let us trust one another.

-for Hallie


Scribbling – Formless Thing Things Form Being in Motion Exploring Complexity – week of 9/7/2013


Formless Thing Things Form   Being in Motion   Exploring Complexity

            In the first place (after a letter to Seth and moving and thinking and painting with wife and a few hours of homework – reviewing Management and Organization Theory and Design no less) the first thing to do is to write.  To simply write by hand, being in motion, that is, setting into motion, and all that follows, which usually happens (like today) first – after folding laundry, washing dishes, required reading, getting kiddos fed, dressed, off to school, checking email and phone messages and new assignments, touching base with wife, drinking (making and drinking) coffee, homework, family, tasks, events, chores, responsibilities, choices – after that the first thing to do is to write, after somehow quieting the buzziness of busyness, at the desk, reading something slow and singular like poems, philosophy, science, or art – something chosen, maybe a walk, maybe music, maybe a task, and then, oh then, the first thing to do is be in motion, set into motion, set being in motion at my desk with a ball-point pen (Bic) and blank, clean, beautiful, hungry, precious, anxious (anticipatory, aroused) lined notebook paper in a loose, forgiving stack, ready, ready, ready…

…for the first thing.

            Which is not to say I was an object before, or that anything was ever a thing, or still (static) prior to pen + paper by my hand – no – Formless Things were Thinging Forms in all the other ways of motion, movements, relationships between tools and water, emotions, skin, utensils and hands and mouths and sounds and voices and contact continuous through air, always movement, humming being in motion beings forming thingless things forming formlessness, changing motion swerves and stoops, bends and helps listening to movements vibrations tones noticing shapes and lines and particling waves of substances moving moving attaching disseminating shapes, sequencing, paces, difference all pointing out where everything connects to everything else – the joining nature of boundaries – what is always next to – observe how the line works:





before which space was “empty” but now it holds together, walls like stitches, buildings like blocks stuck together so things stay gathered, movements, lines, dance, breeze, blood, noises, gluing, gluing, gluing every to-gether, difference repetition pattern

Categories.  To keep things adjoined, combined.  Lists, minutes, days, tasks, timelines, hours, keeping thingless things attached in their movements – different ways of sameness – being in motion – and so forth  →

→ Forth toward firstly, to write.  Being in motion, set in motion, slowly faster, faster by slowly, by hand instead of tapping, fluid choices – typing is stop-motion, discreet, discontinuous – comparatively faster but less efficient, slower (by hand) efficacy thinking images or imaginary thinking now less critical (embedded critique): fluid.  I stop.  Breathing continues with hand thought memory hope – NOW –

A kind of yearning motion movement in letters read as words, phrases, meanings, less representative more relational – unnatural to this and this and that and other.  Confusing writing, drawing, space and time, concept object sign symptom, doodle.

To communicate.  Being in motion together if sequentially the linking looping line (by hand) tracing where we meet, are joined, in movement against/with, with, with one another – here is where we meet, inadvertent/advertently.

Being in motion, set in motion by hand – to draw writing – an advert for connection, to construct lines to bring things together, to notice.  Exploring complexity through being in motion.  Reading is movement.

            We are.


A Real-ization?

A Real-ization(?)

“…And here begins my despair as a writer”

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph


I should say, “began.”  And not “as a writer,” per se, or even primarily, no, I should more accurately portray the experience “…and so began, and ever continues to begin, my despair as a human.”

For experiences, no matter where or when, in full matter of where and when, are multitude that begin such despair.  They are occurrences of a process we call variously “knowing,” “comprehending,” “understanding” – encounters with unlimited and unnecessary contents we might describe as “revelatory,” “visionary,” or “true.”  We describe their feeling and fumble with content.

For they seem to circumscribe an everything – as contained and opening out – well-metaphored by the scientifically religious Big Bang, an un-caused cause or some like.  Experiences we couch in the babbles of mystery: synchronicity, omniscience, omnivorous, omnipotent and omnipresent.  We feel them like an orb or spiral, a series of looping waves without succession.

A.k.a “convergence,” simultaneity and emergence coming together at now and here.

I write “as a human” because I cannot be anything else.  And a human, as a living being, is characterized by limitations and potentials.  Although kinds of things never exhaust their potentials (as far as we know) – thereby always altering what might constitute affordances and constraints lists – nevertheless, in order to be unique (or anything at all – “what –so-ever”) humans must be limited, those limitations providing the very contexts for exploring potentials and potency.

One such environment or niche is the operation of our living processes in space and through time.  I.e. a simultaneous occurrence of everything cannot be processed, cannot be shared, as such.  It must needs be dissected and dismembered via many spaces and over time in order to be perceived by such an animal as we – re-membered and imaged-in (imagined) according to our nature (our processes and practices in our environments).

This is why moments we might re(in)fer to as “transcendent” or “wholistic” perhaps “encapsulating” or “converging” – compressing and expanding (synonymously) some happening that seems “total” generate despair for our kind or species.

I am unable to deny what comes to experience, but with labels and descriptions (interpretation) must take care.  One often turns to symbols or metaphors: icons that serve to absorb a variegated but comprehensible share of human experiences.  Accrued via descriptions and depictions over time, these symbols resonate and traverse times and boundaries in order to gather experiences of a kind.  Take for example the term “hunger,” or a drawing of an eye.  Mirrors, or a resolving I-IV-V progression.  These activities of reference and participation, renewal and recognition, present and re-present for us experiences that seem to extend or equal (again, synonymously) us.

Despair comes in the desired specificity each individual of the species wishes to convey (form of convergence – communicate meaning for our kind can be spotted by our use of the prefix co-).  That experience (in itself necessarily co-), in order to have meaning(humanly speaking) must be shared – we find that telling/singing/dancing/painting/acting/writing/ filming/making/working/sculpting/creating/crafting or any combination of them all and the human-specific processes this entails are unable to re-present such “totalizing” experiences, except at certain angles, perspectives, fragments, over time.

Yet, were it otherwise, we would have no need of any of our abilities – for we would know.  The relations, practices, potentials and processes depend on this inability (limitation) to be.  For us to be, as humans, what and whom, where and when, we are.

Unity would undo this.  In fact, we have no evidence that ANY living entity “shares alike” – reciprocates perfect understanding or replication (or reproduction, ex-ist-ing) exactly…down beyond our cells…there is difference, mis-matching, variation.  In fact, all the co-operations that provide con-vergence and co-mmunity, me-and-ing (meaning) depend on the disjunctions we strive to come over or through in order to express, be understood, known, “as one.”

So, though never “of the same mind,” perspective, or feeling, even when we experience me-and-ing together (gathered) – – this is also how we are.

Perhaps then, less despair than real-ization?


Writing it out : writing in

Into (and out of) the labyrinth of language

“there can be no fully articulated thought without symbolic embodiment…

language is the very stuff of which ‘ideas’ are made…

to separate thought from its symbolic manifestation would be as futile

as to try separating a mind from its embodiment in a human organism”

-Max Black, The Labyrinth of Language

“words are part of action and they are equivalents to actions”

-Bronislaw Malinowski-

            Sometimes silenced.  Pressured in channels.  A void creates a vacuum.  Fettered speech – often necessary but variant to “open” or “expressive” on a relative continuum.  To a purpose.  Carrying a message.  Responsive.  Reducing uncertainty.  Extrinsic.  Sometimes.

As if a balance of scales.  A fluid diagram – flow chart.  Internal at the individual end, external at the communicative social.  Between are many pages, many possible sounds.

If days go by.  When days go by.  After days without a feeling of spillage, a “seems” – the experience, for this writer, of unexpurgated, unconventional intrinsic release – that is, writer’s personal experience (a complexity of interactions – organism with environment and others) there ensues a kind of illness, like constipation, like perpetrated violence or censorship, like oppression – that, unless a leakage is allowed, some systemic crack, a private valve – writer risks implosion.  (Say – depression, frustration, resentment, anger).  Holding a forest beast under the lake.

Slipping out and away, writer beast finds a crevice or hollow, cavern or plain in which, from whence, he or she can reduce uncertainty, verbalizing observations and ideas.  As if life is the laboratory that would go unmarked and unnoticed without jotting tallies on a page.

Writing it out – writing in – a labyrinth.

Taking up the ball-point pen, dragging it along the surface of clean paper, is like turning the tap.

Hiss and sputter – tubes finding matter or substance, inciting energy – then flow.


I write about heaven and hell, the monsters here to there.  Of inscribing itself, the requirements of entity and imagined self or other.  The many, the few, and the plants and the beasts.  What air.  In the woods and the desert, the mind.  The heart with its loves and its rage.  Perpetual fears and the virus of mayhem.  I write about her and the children, of friendships and evil and time.  About death, about life, about learning.  In senses, in theories, in words.

It’s not difficult, I’ve just done it.  And you have provided the meaning, already.  Each term stimulating your “abouts,” descriptions and definitions, the semantics.  I craft words your eyes and ears compose commentaries to.  Little point to my telling.

Yet some of you read differently, perhaps listening.  Maybe wonder the about.  How it comes to be, what is signified for me, and why just so?


Creates conversation.  Your doctor can doll out the pills you receive and absorb, internalizing into your existent system.  Your god may tell you what you should do.  Your boss indicates how you should do it and when, friends and family surround you to be.

Not I.  I don’t want it to work quite like that.  I am spinning no story for you to follow along, no pattern upheld to your measure.  Writing it out in the labyrinth of language, I mean for exchange, for a wander – we enter, we leave the deposits we find, discover and fashion with so many hands, so many eyes, ubiquitous ears.

Write it out writing in, in the reading together, again, wending our way trading secrets and gems, co-constructing meanings and moods all to the tunes of language.


I step out of the water and dry.

The Labyrinth of Language
by Max Black

N Filbert 2012

This has been one of those weeks…children home sick from school, an art show to hang (see here!), school studies, and all the sundries of necessity leaving very little time for nourishing reading and composition.  Needed to set aside some time beginning this day.

Nebulous Thoughts

But what if we went right on ahead?

If we charged like bulls bellowing our mysteries?

When I think of you, think about us, I want to.  That’s exactly what I want to do: be done with mysteries, be one in fact.

But when I look at you, when I touch, taste, smell and listen you, I cannot conceive it.  Can’t even imagine comprehending all that’s unknown, inexplicable.  And I’m afraid to.  That too, I’m frightened of some unfathomable overwhelm.

Yet from a distance, I mean, from here, now, it feels plausible.  To declare all mysteries, one to another, in song or verse or gesture.  Enaction.  To enact our mysteries and imperceivables all at once in some enormous chaotic unison, unashamed.  What is there to be ashamed of?  Secrets are not mysteries, only their private signs.  What forges them is larger and unclear.  Diversity and variation – these we celebrate – no?

Step out of your houses and enact your whole selves!

We will bewilder one another – not such a bad catharsis!

Running, perhaps amok, perhaps silenced to a shuddering ball – who knows?  It’s a mystery!

Perhaps we’d shout in brand new languages – delighting everyone’s ears!  Perhaps we’d alter the surface of the earth, its environments?

Would that we were one expressive impressive cacophonous voice!

Would that we were?

I’d split into a willow tree dropping language-boulders from my fragile limbs.  I’d erupt a perfect mountain steaming as a cold clear lake.  I’d mud.  I’d sprout as a milky pasture of weeds.

You’d Sousaphone in primary colors woven as a world-shawl.  You’d be all the quiet stars, glimmering in their conflagration.  You’d whisper through grain and aspen, moving through air like helium.

We’d crash without injury, fomenting monuments of grandeur.  Melding our mysteries.  You-topia.  Humana-topia.  “Other”-worldly.


Perhaps a universal dancing, a carnival of beauty so trouncing our balancing globe as to shatter it, sitting afloat or casting about – some atmospheric inferno.  Perhaps a gaseous stench would burst forth, a deadly poison.  Perhaps disaster.  Apocalypse of  invisible revealed.

We could surely say “we know not what we do” living mysteries, eh?

“Off the hook” even as it gores us.

Earthquaking order in riotous glee.

The maniac’s laugh.

A universe of blindness and flare.

Breaking the eggs, precarious shells.

No wonder veneers.  Elaborate mechanisms.

Flexible and porous, rigid and finely tuned.

It wears  out, the strain and stress: containing, defending.

What if we went right on ahead?

Plunged up out of deep waters, rocketing down from our skies?

Going through with our propensities: explosion/implosion?

What do you imagine?  The beginning?  The end?

A flood, a conflagration?  Some perfect balance?

We hardly know ourselves, one another…

secrets give way to hiding, large blank territories blocking the unseen, from ourselves, one another…


we call eco-system, survival, “life.”


From here, right now, I want to release, to channel and broadcast – to expose without imposition, sing that I might hear, dance that I might see, enact in order to know…become some inward/outward thing, supernova and black hole at once…

nothing escaping, nothing withheld.

Who (what) are we?