And that my words are the garment of what I shall never be
Like the tucked sleeve of a one-armed boy
– W.S. Merwin, “When You Go Away”
Time keeps accumulating on my inability to write, to find time to write, to process living with language. Simply to keep this space alive, I am posting a journal-like entry so as not to give up.
Recent weeks have been dominated by readings of Doug Rice, Laurie Sheck, Jon Fosse, Georges Bataille, Larry Levis, Maurice Blanchot, Samuel Beckett, Franco Berardi, Robert Bringhurst, Jeremy Fernando, Elfriede Jelinek and others…
What a traversal, passage, the past couple of months have been…
…like following the draw of the moon through dire straits
in dark, tumultuous seas…
…a feeling that everything is at its limit (Bataille, l’extreme) – EXPERIENCE.
pressured work projects, needs, deadlines, demands
endless and constant family logistics, accidents, needs
relentless parenting, relating, service to others
throngs of people and groups
lack of friends, lovers, supportive presences
fear, health, danger, exhaustion
loss of partner
inexistence of calm or solitude
absence of sleep and rest
indulgence in desire and harm
poor eating or nourishment
lack (wellness) & excess (pressure)
…a teetering balance…
Mind you, this is how it feels in me, not how it is.
I miss everything that is/was good
There is a certain uncertain sorrow to things
(presence of melancholia, moon-draw)
Georges Bataille’s certainties:
WE ARE NOT EVERYTHING
WE WILL DIE
THE UNKNOWN THE UNSOLVABLE THE POSSIBLE
Lynda Barry & the “Underground Skateboard” – how we draw from others work what we need to survive
Lemony Snicket & the autographing instruction that I should “read something else”
immersion (doom, closure) held in levity
– 1st Tarot reading –
(processual journey mythical)
Jacob recommends Homer – The Odyssey
doubling letting go – holding together The Devil/The Chariot
dark surfaces / surfaces of darkness (The Fool)
The Moon (dark journey) crossed by the Queen of Swords (wounding love)
THE UNKNOWN THE UNSOLVABLE THE POSSIBLE
The King of Wands – leaders, pole vaulters, utilizing tension toward propulsion
leap over? through? on?
Pas sage – not wisdom FRAUGHT JOURNEY
– Odyssey –
BATAILLE: “nothing is final…”
– “what is not there, which, once it is seen, often in literature, tells us what is” (Fosse)
“the suffering of the disintoxicated” (Bataille)
challenging everything (of putting everything into question) – Bataille
always a breakdown of systems that will not be restored – Sheck
“Experience reveals nothing and cannot found belief nor set out from it” – Bataille
“The hand moves forward, the tragedy begins” – Bataille
“no one grieves with you for what you are unable to say”
“life itself…always swerves away from my mouth”
– Elfriede Jelinek –
“how I’m owned by that which will not answer” – Sheck
“What you are will be spelled by whatever
lies trapped in your hand” – Robert Bringhurst
– emptiness is also empty –
“what is the part of us… feels…unnamed…
…i must live at some distance from convinced” – Sheck
“When I say you to what isn’t there – I mean me” (Larry Levis)
So we persisted, Jon, Jesse, and I, and the deceased Beckett, with perhaps thousands of others, unbeknownst any to each around some mythical innermost.
“Fail better.” The worst times are the ones in which one simply wants to quit failing altogether. Unfortunately (literally) that necessarily entails a kind of “end of the world as one ‘knows’ [perceives, participates, experiences, or imagines] it” – either suicide, tragedy, ‘terminal’ illness – death of some sort. Maybe silence, but that’s not certain.
The game table is always already laid, you’re always simply ‘entering’ it (LW points out this fallacy in his collections of numbered critiques of anything anyone writes or says or claims) actually (as far as we know) always already there (where you ‘find’ – what?!? – your ‘self’ – what?!?) and (again, perhaps, literally, unfortunately – or at the very least extremely limitedly) you can only occupy one position at the table (or wherever the action happens to be) at a time, that, unfortunately, always involves the very delimited…well, YOU. These are the arrangements as they transpire.
Language can (and does), we surmised, go anywhere. I try to record, invent, notate, mark, initiate. It all seems unnameable. Or of far too many names, references, usages, subtexts and connotations, inferences and denotations, already implemented in order to represent anything undone, reconstructed, deconstructed, novel or ‘new.’ “There’s nothing new under the sun” was already a cliché at the beginning / in the earliest phases.
Fires and voids all imagined early. [Apeiron. Chora/Khora. Clinamen. Flux. Infinity. ABSENCE. The ‘Other.’]. I begin. Again. GWFH and Freud refer to this as “repetition.” A hopeless hope of emergence. As different or unique as it may seem, ever a plenitude of the pre-existing. The already-there.
Been there, done that, Beckett exhausts from his grave alongside. “He was found lying on the ground…a voice comes to one in the dark” Imagine. Imagine. Everything is already there. The table set and set again, arranged. Already there when you wake to it. World.
It hasn’t…apparently…been given up. Perhaps it is inexhaustible. Limited though we be, we seem to be teeming with it/them… efforts at the unsayable. Unnameable. How it is. What is the what. Lost in the labyrinth of the occurrence, experience, now with shoddy, partial, biased and over-specified or eccentrically particular maps, guides, or rulebooks. Ourselves.
Jesse’s working up something, so is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded.
There was plenty of talk – banter, chatter, fulminations, really – to the contrary, to the effect that the ‘working up’ had ceased, had dwindled, long since dissipated or been simply forgotten…not so. Now I’ve heard from Jon and Jesse, piecemeal though it be, and my own ‘working-on’ (or UNWORKING, as MB always referred to it) is near to its inception.
Something is going to emerge. Jon repeats and repeats that “Someone is going to come” and Jesse appears to have passed beyond the silence once begun, through all his notes of suicide, toward fire and conflagration and some bewildered youthfulness. Nohow On become a MUST. And all of it inconclusive, i.e. not concluded.
I work in, on, up, and ever forward, toward – ‘toward the what?’ Jon keeps asking while Jesse scrawls on napkins – figures like cartoons, clowns and foxes, masters, slaves, and mysteries – our locations go unmarked, our whereabouts unknown. This is How It Is, according to Beckett and MB. FK in the burrow. Plato in a cave. JD taking apart each domicile, meticulously.
We are looking for a place to work at our unworking, the time and space to be for what is not. Beckett named it The Unnameable.
I took to the books and letters, while apparently the others wrote, made messages and codes, secreted the symbols into texts and silences, plays and fictions full of pause. GWFH, another spell of YHWH, foretold this long ago: “the ends are reached and reached beyond, folding under, folding through, reached again, again, and…”
For years now Jon is melancholy and therefore quite abbreviated, unable to go on, full of stutters, repetitions, and always the questions, questioning, questing, the undone. Jesse through his trials and papered rooms, sometimes near and sometimes foreign, never-know, never-mind, never-where, scraping geography and clouds in search of where No Where and Now Here meet. I’ve thus far been unable to locate him. As for Ivan, Ivan and Enrique both stopped working after the library of loss – assembling detectives, interviewing the dumb and victimized, missals here and there, mostly filled of snow and jungle.
I think: crows spread across the overcast, charred ash sprinkling fields, nothing rooted, nothing grown.
The unworking. Almost a throw of the dice. Half of each sentence erased. The subtle coterie of literate mathematicians. Reports from elsewhere. WG’s layered travelogue… in search of… The work of unworking goes on.
“Splitting on difference,” he said, the passage from mayhem to insight – WG described as “Vertigo,” the verge, the swerve, the swoon. You reach an edge or limit, what cannot be undone, begin unworking. Begin unworking there.
At the grave “I can’t go on. I must go on. I’ll go on,” Beckett decries. It’s not at understanding – “splitting on difference” – but in the going-on, turning over/under, inexhaustibly or ad infinitum – convergences coming undone.
From JD Jesse gets a Post Carte, leaves it somewhere in the margins, but we know. We know we have heard, even if we can’t re-member. All variations of death, Jon thinks, Jon writes, Jon says…assembling the book of questions…the interior distance of this fierce and beautiful world filled with women, fire, and dangerous things…keeping MB in infinite conversation.
Some things don’t make sense yet seem imperative. As if there were a realm of the unsayable, a set of stanzas wedding language and death – signifying nothing – that is to say, a world of unspeakable silence that works like clamor.
Exhausting voice and nothing more. The trouble with pleasure, with suffer, with become. None of us trust ideas and yet we generate and respond.
“He was found lying on the ground. No one had missed him. No one was looking for him… An old woman found him.” (Beckett). We somehow set out to search. “That seems to hang together.” Jon, Jesse, WG, myself, scouring the globe for more – who, what…- “But finally I asked if I knew exactly what the man – what exactly was required of the man, what it was he could or could not say. No, was the answer, after some little hesitation, no, I did not know…” and so we keep on.
“A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.” JD post carte. Beckett’s own death, still. GWFH, WG, FK and MB’s left messages, notes, recordings. “Only a small part of what is said can be verified”…if any. We are left, bereft, full of fragments, thoughts concluded, forgotten, ignored, but still unworking – in journeys, in dramas, in fire. Hanging at the limits of ropes. To strangle or drop, and what then? What next? Splitting on difference. It comes apart, what holds together. No one knows. Nowhere, now here, very difficult to say. Meticulous dismantling, decode – recode – Unicode – uncode.
…Jesse’s working up something, as is Jon. I’ve begun working again. Beckett is still dead. Or dead, still – either way he has not concluded. Piecemeal as it may be, we are all working on (or UNWORKING, as MB liked to refer to it)…and nearing some inception.