Invisible Man Chronicles, cont’d

Click HERE for parts 1 and 2

2-xray handshake



            Rattling bones, deep-falling diaphragm – through continuous sightings and encounters with “H” (“her”) these consistently occur – even over hours, days, and months.

            I might say that what characterizes our particular version of intimacy are curiosity and wonder and the ecstasy of discovery and finding – imbuing apparently abandoned spaces with vitality and imagination.


            A week later was a potluck for the visiting artist.  Small-talking with “her” in the kitchen – I felt inadequate to be occupying her time and “let her go” to mingle with the many I was certain were desirous of her indomitable and imaginative company.  I spoke with her partner, the farm-inhabiting-best-friend-artist-lady, and H sidled in.  There was much laughter (their minds are contagious and entertaining – as if the structures of adulthood and professional culture never quite ‘took’ or corralled possibilities)…around “her” my breath dissipates.  We’d both been hired as rural mail carrier associates with joint training to occur the week following; both commissioned to respond to this artist’s intimately relational performance work; both in love with abandoned places and their loss and decay – both committed to discovering lost or overlooked things. 

            There we were.

            I in poverty. 

            Day one of training sat us next to one another, her length and beauty, doodles and read-alouds from the training manual enthralling.  I worked to breathe and lived through my peripheral perception – registering her movements, hair, wrist, knee, hands, mouth pronouncing acronyms, quirky nervous habits, footwear, scent and clothing…

            She suggested (did she?) lunch together.  I’m quite certain that converged through a clumsy stumbling and fragmented semblance of conversation.  I had planned only banana and peanut butter on my budget – yet each day we went – for that amazing hour – somewhere I’d never been before in a city I’d spent over three decades in and around.  An abandoned hotel, a nature trail, small chain restaurants, of which one, perhaps, constituted a first “date,” as, after placing our orders, she removed to the restroom and I was left to pay the bill!  (Delightful things like that).


            Blessings.  I was gaining practice in “soaking in the good” – a strategy instructed through my therapy, and H was much better than I ever imagined, a remarkable alchemy of behaviors and body parts – co-constituting an unknown ‘ideal’ to my mind, sensations, experience and history.  I was dumbstruck, amazed, bewildered, befuddled – in other words – alive and in hope.


            I’d been asking her coterie of creator-friends to visit my home for fire or food or an art-making party – to no response or avail.  Everyone taking a read.  She agreed, then doubted, then declared she thought she might appear via an internet message.  Thus she arrived, of a Sunday afternoon in April, to my home.

             We parlayed and exchanged – art, family, friends, lives, plans, hopes, strategies, likes and dislikes, ideas and tears, meanings and lies and other truths.  I ached toward her – finding romance and desire and a periscope of loving peeking out, looking round, checking for safety.  It isn’t safe.  It’s unlikely, bizarre, fantastical : sixteen years between us and four marriages – her blossoming while I fade to grey, her popping with –larity, my struggling for place.  She asked me to sit next to her.

            The sides of our arms.  Legs.  Eventually fingers becoming entangled.  We talked staring straight ahead, caught in some astronaut training module machine, no gravity, no reference, dizzied and desirous, disbelieving and desirous, frightened and desirous, with just the right amount of belonging and estrangement, novelty to craft courage and excitement throughout our neural nets.

             We concocted funnel cakes of cinnamon and sugar, mustard, jalapenos and sausage.  They flopped and sickened, we laughed and she left.  I think perhaps we loved, even then, that day.  She left behind a bevy of hands from a book she created, by extraction.  Our hands were open, our minds and hearts, a letting-go, with patterns and a freeing, a dance: in common, in Kansas, in history, in hope, in commitments, in fears and neuroses.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


In our realm, Summer busies – schedules, rituals and rhythms deconstruct and a verve of freedom and compulsion arises in our children.  And there are vacations and visitors and spontaneous events.  The weather withers me, people are drawn to the outside, in all – Summer discomforts me.

And yet…this week expect the visits of my wife’s twin, her aunt, and a long-time friend and his family, AND we’ll celebrate these dear twins birthday with wild national hoopla (July 4 – precious to me because she entered the world, but I’m happy to have help in the celebrating at this level!).

What gathers and whispers…or shouts and plays…runs and claps…talks and snuggles…HOME…those precious to us, invaluable, incalculable,

Yesterday eve we were enjoying a particularly (abnormal) gentle, cool Kansas Summer eve on our porch and listening to the music of Keith Kenniff – placed here as a celebration of Summer’s affordances – dislocated time, gatherings, visitations and travels – favorites – family, friends, nests…

Keith Kenniff - Branches

Keith Kenniff – Branches


Recently, I have received several queries into either how I read as much as I read, or how I find or know what to read.  As I respond to these inquiries, it has interested me how in fact, I account for my reading history.  E.L. Doctorow explained he rarely knew what he believed until he had written about it.  Dostoevsky would start authoring a given scene, assuming he understood precisely what he believed about the issue discussed in it, only to have one of his characters convince him otherwise.  Frequently it is only through the actual act of creation that we locate what we really feel and think about a subject.” (Olsen, architectures of possibility).  That, coupled with “Authors frequently say things they are unaware of; only after they have gotten the reactions of their readers do they discover what they have said” – Umberto Eco…resulted in these self-observations:

Even from persons I deem much more knowledgeable than myself I often hear “you’ve read more than anyone I know…” and I have spent many hours a day for many decades – reading.  I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home, so the concern for truth, authority and canon were socio-culturally inculcated in me from an early age.  When I began exploring music, philosophy and literature I found this concern ruling my approach: what is deemed canonical (attested by authorities), what came first?, and what rings true?  I remember beginning with anthologies of classical poets, then ancient scriptures, Homer and so forth.  Beginning with Plato/Aristotle then forward through those who claimed their influence.  Beginning with Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and then forward and back to origins and influences.  That has been my habit in exploring cultural artifacts.  Find references.  Correspondence.  Claims.  Follow them out.  And follow those out.  And follow those.  And….so on.

As to achieving the absorption of piles of books at a time – when pushed to claim a process – I was surprised at the simple methodologies.  I have referred to “transductive reading” from time to time in these posts – the interaction and co-constitutive commentaries that work provides to work.  So I read large amounts of materials over large amounts of time (though my wife insists I read speedily) – I find I read sections / chapters / pages from a multitude of books and let them interact in me forming tissues and connections, rather than singular voices or ideas straight through.  I read for differences – turns of phrase, terminologies, rhythms, in persons approaches to subjects, rather than reading for topical content or idea-information as data.  Where a voice, approach, or technique is unique is often what particular works have to offer, I have come to think.  And, depending on genre or reason for reading – as overlaps increase as the volume of “have-read” grows – one can often browse for summarizing sections to find the nuances each thinker or creator proffers.

reading a lot

Then there’s my personal history and approach to things.  Hard-pressed to learning from youth=26 straight years of education + 17 years working in or managing retail bookstores – in an effort to be an “excellent” bookseller – implying to me I had to know something of everything a reader might desire (first hand).  Publisher’s catalogs, reviews, recommendations, lists, histories, from the development of language to its variation in forms and contents.  And always that uncanny recognition of Grenzsituationen – or “Limit Texts.”

“It might be helpful to conceive of certain texts as Limit Texts – a variety of writing disturbance that carries various elements of narrativity to their brink so the reader can never quite think of them in the same terms again.  To the brink, and then (for most readers, at least) over.  Karl Jaspers coined the word Grenzsituationen (border/limit situations) to describe existential moments accompanied by anxiety in which the human mind is forced to confront the restrictions of its existing forms – moments, in other words, that make us abandon, fleetingly, the securities of our limitedness and enter new realms of self-consciousness.  Death, for example.”

“If we carry this notion of Grenzsituationen into the literary domain, we find ourselves thinking about the sorts of books that, once you’ve taken them down from the shelf, you’ll never be able to put back up again.  They won’t leave you alone.  They will continue to work on your imagination long after you’ve read them.  Merely by being in the world, Limit Texts ask us to embrace possibility spaces, difficulty, freedom, radical skepticism.  Which writings make up the category will, naturally, vary from reader to reader, depending on what the reader has already encountered by way of innovative projects, his or her background, assumptions and so on…but the more Limit Texts one reads, the less one tends to feel the impulse to return to more conventional narrativity…”

-Lance Olsen, architectures of possibility

These situations are tattooed on my body (literally)…and include:

Samuel Beckett – Macedonio Fernandez – Paul Celan – Fyodor Dostoevsky – Ludwig Wittgenstein – Maurice Blanchot – Helene Cixous – Clarice Lispector – Franz Kafka – Fernando Pessoa – David Foster Wallace – Mikhail Bakhtin – Rainer Maria Rilke – Edmond Jabes – Federico Garcia Lorca – William Stafford – Egon Schiele – Vincent van Gogh – Johannes Brahms – Alberto Giacometti – Robert Musil – Friedrich Nietzsche – C.F. Peirce…

as you uncover these (your own personal) writers – your pantheon

of those who change your view of the possibilities of language and who you can return to again and again

without  really feeling you’ve been there before – they become coordinates – network nodes – whereby you

evaluate and expand, extend and engage new writings you are exposed to – forever altering your patience and expectations of literature or whatever cultural artifact-type you crave and are pleasured by…thus making your reading more efficient and your selections increasingly more challenging and compelling to you – as long as you continue to leap out and expose yourself to things that might be unexpected

Ben Marcus – Ronald Sukenick – Laurie Sheck – Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge – Lyn Hejinian – Denis Johnson – Laurence Sterne – William James – C.F. Peirce – Michel Serres – Bruno Latour – Jorge Luis Borges – Cervantes – Immanuel Kant –

your lists will spawn as you follow their correspondences, admirations, criticisms, references, citations,

and you develop your literary canon

more on that another time


Meeting the Requirements

For Friday Fictioneers – May 3, 2013

Copyright -KentBonham

Wobbling within our habitation – wandering and confused, almost wondering why, but still composing, constructing, rearranging and conceiving it again in different light at different angles in differing times from different points of view, almost like a structure or a form foaming out of content like both sides of a two-way mirror – what we’ve made of what we’re made of – making tremendous spackled multi-entried exits and shifting permeable boundaries – you push, I push, we pull – it changes – look again and reconsider, same as considering anew or forever beginning while still it’s taking shape, working it over even when we’re not working – not really – detail upon detail after detail ever only under one single purpose – to be functional.

N Filbert 2013

Deep and Wide in Kansas

meant to be read to the accompaniment of Ben Howard’s “Highland Drifting” which was playing as we flew

Safe in smooth salt from a Permian sea.  

  wide land preserve us.

Dizzying dreams.

The hum, the rumble, the altering sky.

things get stirred up

family dozing, off the horizon

you listen.  to nothing.  to all.

  a sense is made of comparisons with  sea

the winds.  the open.  the variable border between land and sky.  its permeable skin marked by  few trees.

and memory.

how i only hold names and not faces.

language whispers while images fade.

family.  friends.  relations.

at some time I was young.

now diffusing.

it goes on.

it is Spring.

we were there.

we are here


Where what I do, does

Author by Jada

“Was there ever a period when my words weren’t already headed?”

-R.M. Berry-

the Superstitious Naked Ape had the great idea of each of you offering a photo of your workspaces – see comment below – would be intriguing – feel free to provide

Defining Spaces

August 14, 2012, the first day (DAY) of rain in Kansas that I am able to recall for a very long time.  Not a passing windy thunderstorm, but a wet dripping sky holding temperatures in the 60s.  A genuine “rainy day.”

We are home.  Inhabiting a structure we have designed and filled up with ourselves, each one, and altogether.  It’s been awhile.

For days we’ve struggled to catch up: reports, bills, groceries, supplies, dust, papers, books, photographs, laundry, enrollments, business, correspondence, maintenance, rest.

Organization as definition.

Definition as form, parameter, boundary.

Defining a space (reorganization) to find or enable content.

Rearranging contents to formulate new space.

Needing the space…drawing the blanks___________…to manipulate a safety, a breathing, an empty, to allow.

In chaos I write, as if pinning down terms could needle a swarm of locusts to a board for inquiry and examination.

In emptiness I build by finding blocks to set: my lover’s eyes, my children’s sounds and bodies and play, a coffee cup, clear desk, blank paper…then Jabes, Shklovsky, Wittgenstein, Blanchot.  Wallace Stevens, Dragomoshchenko, Montale, Bakhtin.

Fencing a fallow field.

I check my pockets for seed.

I’ve been an astronaut.

I can’t remember rain.

I am what I am reported to have said.  As are those around me, if only in our heads or dreams or passion or anger or fear.

Opening an old notebook I am stunned by a page lacquered in heavy charcoals and dark pastels.  I make out in fierce giant letters “WE WILL DIE!”, then scribbled around it, hard to decipher in the noise of the marks, the names of each one in my family.

I think “so begin.”

Stop.  Locate a space.  Breathe.  Then move.

Movement is beginning.

Connectives of  meaning or purpose may follow the following of orders or order the following connections of meaning.

I begin with my body, following my fingers as they formulate form, defining the spaces with words…

“if the meaning-connexion can be set up before the order, then it can also be set up afterwords”

Ludwig Wittgenstein

each is no more or less than the words he is reported to have said”

-Richard Stamelman, of Edmond Jabes’ rabbis

Edmond Jabes

Happy Monday this Tuesday. Begin.

Today I woke up.

I woke up in love.  In joy.

A song was sparrowing to and fro in my mind’s sky (Boxer Rebellion – Soviets)

We have new puppies and they are loving and cute.

The heat has broken and there were clouds in the sky.

we have twins of these

In love?

In joy?

What might those mean?

We danced the pups to trauma to the Lumineers “Ho Hey”.

Like coming out of a slump.

Like post-coital bliss.

That full, that relaxed and open.

For no particular reason.

For so many particular reasons.

plus we made a pistachio bundt cake

How does the brain chemistry experience?

How do the senses collage reality?

How are we?

this is your brain on joy


I woke today in bliss and joy.

I woke today in love.


Happy Monday this Tuesday.


Fathers Day 2012

Fathers Day 2012

(for Tristan, Aidan, Ida and Oliver)


I would use the word “foundational”

but it’s much much more than that.

“The child is father to the man”

in so very many ways.


Fundament comes closer

expanding in us a sense

of ever-expanding edges

of universe and galaxies

within which everything that is,



But, personally, it’s larger,

and deeper, and wider

and exponentially more important


these children that father me

to fatherhood.

Giving me these things they’ve made

of me.


I look at them.

I long for them.

I love them.

and I marvel.


I come from this! I sing

these four amazing

and tremendous beings

making me their father,


shaping me as man,

a human,

a relationship

after all.


I’m not much of one for ‘truth’

but will say ‘this I believe.’


N Filbert 2012



The Essence of Place

“To record the essence of a place, so that it can be inhabited by something outside itself, is to start a story.  This means searching for a language, one that we know intuitively but cannot spell out.”

-Lukas Felzmann, Landfall

“The time has come to talk of whatever we want”

-Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, Xenia

“the work drives beyond promise, craving and time”

-Louis Zukofsky, Prepositions

            Sometimes there were birds there.  They passed through in groups, in swoops.

I’ve seen people there too, but not swooping or grouping.  It just isn’t that kind of place.


It felt large and open yet cloistered, contained.  There were large trees all around and throughout.  Somehow it seemed level.

I don’t recall there being water, but I believe it staid nearby.  As if it were ready for when it was needed.

I’ve no memory of critters or pets, cycles or frogs.  Only birds that might swarm like the leaves filling trees as they swayed.

Oh my, but the blur!  The soft focus in apprehending!  It rocks and it waves, it flows through you while sitting, I say!

I wonder the eyelids of storms.  I leap lying down.  I silently sing out the shrieking of birds.  I love in this place.  As wild or as calm as is needed, a respondent surround.

When I’m here I try to tell you, by searching for words or the making of pictures.  That don’t capture.

Have you wandered here before?  To the essence of a place?

Please do tell me or show me what’s yours…


N Filbert 2012