Self-Beckett Confessions

“I have only to go on, as if there were something to be done, something begun, somewhere to go.  It all boils down to a question of words, I must not forget this… May one speak of a voice, in these conditions?… If only I knew what I have been saying… Bah, no need to worry, it can only have been one thing, the same as ever…”

“At no moment do I know what I’m talking about, nor of whom, nor of where, nor how nor why”

“Yes, in my life, since we must call it so, there were three things, the inability to speak, the inability to be silent, and solitude, that’s what I’ve had to make the best of…”

“I don’t know what I’m saying.  I’m doing as I always did, I’m going on as best I can”

– Samuel Beckett –

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

 

Meaning-Making in Living Systems, or, 15,000 Things

subatomic

is a phrase and a theory I have queried, contemplated, spelunked and pursued for the past few decades of my “living.”  Since (apparently) before I can remember, I’ve been addicted to a kind of figuring-out – some offspring of “understanding,” any concept / idea / or belief-faith – that might elucidate to me my (experienced) compulsion to “meaning” or “significance” – to matter as matter-in-relation.

I’ve encountered many gurus (preachers, priests, philosophers, psychologists, scientists, mathematicians and artists, farmers and engineers, poets = “people”) along the way who have sent, directed, swerved, commanded, troubled, commended, interrogated, suggested and questioned this impulse of mine.  From sarcasm to scholarship I’ve been told I will not find that which I seek.  Or recommended resolutions that don’t withstand my particular scrutiny and skepticism.

It is sunny and light, Spring-y and gentle in Kansas today.  I took my lunch, after a walk, at a table among trees.  Birds were active, dogs ambling by, flowers in bloom, and a breeze.

For the most part I “eat” cause I’ve believed that otherwise I would fail (as a being) and die.  I like to enjoy food, but most often it’s presumed “preparation” falls to me, and therefore becomes a complication of time I would prefer not to.

So I sat and I drank (so much easier).  Water & coffee & other things to my pleasure.  And “pondered,” I guess – what I do, when (apparently) no one requires immediate need of me.

I was alone, in a way.

And thinking of “meaning-making,” and “knowledge,” “belief” and “desire” – human shit.  (It’s what I do – that compulsion).

*** As I was contesting people’s behaviors and language recently in my home, my unanticipated fortune of something like a life-partner offered the response “there are 15,000 things it could be.”  Which struck hold and has become something of a cliché in short order in our home.  Imponderables, indefinables, indescribabilities.  For any action any thing might perform – there are nigh infinite possible “reasons” (most likely irrational) – these courses are taken.  “Personal knowledge” is not something we have.  Systems do what they do – what is done is what’s done – and the likelihood of our assessments being correct is near null.*** [that’s all an aside]

I can be critical.

And quite gracious and kind.

“Depending.”

On what?

15,000 things.

I am rambling.  And have decided to do so.  Readers, you must know, I don’t write because I have something to say.  (15,000 things).  I have drives to express (inexplicably) – and most often what I write is precisely a declaration of what I don’t know.

“The more we know, the more exposed we are to our ignorance, and the more we know to ask”

– Marcelo Gleiser, The Island of Knowledge

Well that’s a positivist view.

When I write, I expose all my ignorance.  Compose hunches and urges, fascinations and fears.  Ache to pull my ineffables toward tongues.  Talking’s the same.  I don’t know what I’m saying – just hoping experience finds text.  Immaterial materializing.  We might get “something to work with.”  I don’t understand any of it.

Sitting then, in the sweet Kansas day, 20/30 years of my life gained a traction.  “Meaning-making,” to make meaning, was obscuring infinite unknowns.  Underlying such a contention – that meaning is made – swum its absence = there’s no meaning “there.”

“Person-hood” aptly decreed – “person” a “hood” that we wear.  “Person-ality” – some ability we possess to appear as in situations.  “Meaning” – a something we might craft to suit our unaccountable occurrences.  I don’t mean anything, significance is made.  If I’m lucky the people around me choose to do so with my existence.  Otherwise it’s matter of course.  We’re Matter…of course.  But who knows?  Also the problem of “knowledge” – the only “knowledge” we have is our own and some idiosyncratic communal bastardization of what our Species has MADE.

Not quite nihilism.  Just meaninglessness.

I like the idea of “meaning-making” – finding it in the relation of atoms, of stars, of humans and beasts.  Of dreams and delusions, of science.  I like “knowledge” – created cultural artifacts and residue, flotsam & jetsam, structures and practical theories.  AND it would seem it obscures what surrounds.  For every academic discipline that drills its way into a world we experience (as humans) and stacks up hypotheses and –pedias…there’s still the wide world there from every other perspective and experience – the ant, paramecium, subatomic particle, sky.  Your spouse or your child, parent or friend, or the foreign, the stranger, the Other, the “them.”

Myopia.  Perception.  The experience of meaning.  Attribution of significance.  What matters in matter to ME.  IF matter – for even matter’s a human contribution to what seems to be.

Perhaps it comes down to particularized –“hoods” and “-abilities” – “each one’s” momentary personhood and personality – whether experience is an occasion to “make meaning” or glide on in its unnecessary meaninglessness.  I don’t know.

What remains is my deranged and crazy compulsion – my “hood” I guess, and ability.

So many words come to mind.

Librarian & Litterateur…

Makeover Day

I am not a scholar.  I know that now.

I am middle-aged.

I have pursued no discipline, field, or “area of knowledge” to its limits.

“Core literature.”

Librarian.  “Litterateur” (awful sound).  These.

Exploring fields: science, literature, philosophy, history, critical thought – through the “core literature” – the Canons of the Field.

Only so far.

Not to the ends.

What a novelist needs.  Knowledge a little beyond average, a little obsessive, a little “never satisfied.”

A librarian: able to discourse with “Scholars” in any field – enough terminology, vocabulary, “core knowledge.”

“Jack of all trades, king of none.”

Yes, that.

Librarian.  Litterateur.  (I don’t know what else to call it).

Me.

Degrees in Classical Music, Theology, Philosophy, Information Science, Art & Critical Thought.

It’s something.

But not “scholarship”.

Core Knowledge.

Trying to be human.

Trying to know what I need to know to be that.

Trying to be.

Self-reflective Intrigue of the Day

“I have tried to describe a feeling that has often troubled me: I revenge myself on it by giving it publicity”

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

THE SOLIDARITY OF MIND-BODY-WORLD

MINDBODYWORLD

In my life, desire has been a ceaseless problem.

I have always possessed an unquenchable, ravenous, hunger for knowledge, relation & sex.

For the first time (in nearly 45 years) I can see it as a wholism.

I could read & reflect in the literature and learning of the world 18-20 hours a day without tiring.

I could engage & evince sexual fulfillment and bodily orgasm repeatedly without complaint.

I could interact & dialogue with another willing human around issues of being 18-20 hours a day without exhaustion.

These seem equalities; totalities; wholisms.

The refusal of dualities and scissions.

Inasmuch as my mindbody organism never tires and perpetually desires experiences of stimulation, information, novelty and introduction : research – literature – science – philosophy – style of expression – CONTENT-RICH, CURIOUS, CREATIVE, IDIOSYNCRATIC, NOURISHING, INFORMATIVE OR CHALLENGING...

so does my body: traditional/conventional intimate relationships seem characterized by graphable, chartable periods of intimate craving passion of new love (novelty) / regulation of growing familiarity (intimacy) / rhythmic relational ritual regarding sexual (bodily) ecstatic experience…yet NEVER has that satisfied me.  I have always longed for CONTENT-RICH, CURIOUS, CREATIVE, IDIOSYNCRATIC, NOURISHING, INFORMATIVE &/or CHALLENGING bodily pleasure AS MUCH AS I have for my learning mind…with my bodily experience.

As with sex, so with reading (& vice-versa): the IMPORT is the quality, stimulation & unique learning & fulfillment that each author / partner / interaction / experience brings…NOT a quest for repetition or sameness…

I can read Kafka, Dostoevsky, Musil, Proust, Scripture, Aquinas, Plato, Aristotle, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Foucault, Gendlin, Rilke – indeed THOUSANDS of thinkers/artists OVER AND OVER again NEVER tiring or failing to notice / learn / experience some new insight / perception / feeling / LEARNING / ecstasy 

LIKEWISE – physical human partners – I WOULD NEVER tire, grow used to, familiarize, exhaust, cease or lessen to crave, desire, starve for – unique, intriguing, wonderful physical bodies for stimulation, perception, experience, learning, ecstasy 

Seems a Wholism to me.  With what is GOOD – nourishing, stimulating, fulfilling – I NEVER CEASE TO CRAVE IT, & NEVER AM FULFILLED – or “accustomed,” “familiarized,” “apathetic,” “exhausted” of detail, inquiry, pursuit, exploration…

Long and long I have felt BAD about this:

feeling that I am weird, a sexually addicted person, uncannily erotic, unnaturally intellectual/abstract etc…

No more.  I realize my MIND and my BODY are the same thing: ONE THING : a PERSONand that exactly as much as I ache/lust/pine/hanker for intellectual stimulation and inexhaustibility in great works of human creativity and expression/reflection…SO I ache/lust/pine/hanker for stimulation and inexhaustible pleasure of bodily interaction… 

FOR ONCE…PERHAPS I AM NOT THE “WEIRD” ONE

The one desiring equally and inexhaustibly ecstasy of mind and body, untiringly, unceasingly, unsatisfiably…

The perpetual “quest” for the “endless joy of erotic experience”

MIND & BODY – Aristotle, Augustine, Heidegger, Agamben…

Sappho, Rumi, Rilke, Pessoa…

MIND & BODY EVER CRAVING

PERPETUAL DESIRE

PERPETUAL JOY 

impossible to fulfill

impossible to fail

ECSTASY

the perpetuation of joy and desire

WHOLLY

Well-matched, then.  Identical, then.  SELFSAME, then: mind & body

desire & fulfillment

joy and longing

selfsame in me

and I am not ashamed.

tricircle_fractal

LIFE: REALMS OF PERPETUAL DESIRE AND FULFILLMENT VIA THE JOY OF DESIRE AND PERPETUAL FULFILLMENT NEVER SATISFIED ALWAYS CRAVING ALWAYS NOURISHED CRAVING MORE 

PERPETUAL

DESIRE/FULFILLMENT

IDENTICAL

RECURSIVE

NO DESIRE WITHOUT FULFILLMENT

NO FULFILLMENT WITHOUT DESIRING

Ouroboros

WHAT I AM.

Groundlessness

Chodron - groundlessness

 

I seem to be unable to stop digging in and reflecting on When Things Fall Apart.  My memories range over its engagements with this book, most of the circumstances blurred and dissipate, but not the wisdom of the text.  I was trying to explain to my teens the odd euphoria that follows suicidal determination – what neuroscience knows as “shut-down.”  As the body begins to burn, or be ripped apart by fangs, riddled with bullets or smashed into bits…pain ceases to be useful to the organism and it is flooded with endorphins…a kind of blissed-out euphoria like a systemic morphine drip.  “There is definitely something tender and throbbing about groundlessness,” Pema says.

hypnotic-notions-holly-suzanne-filbert

 

But the idea isn’t shut-down.  The idea is more like a drowning compression without a bottom…a fall…a float…if fear – flight; if anxiety – distract; if anguish – addictive comfort; all these options for moving away, slipping out, attempt at relief, escape, a concretization of experience, rather than its flow.  It’s now-ness.  This drowning compression without bottom – what if we BE THERE?  What if we sit in it, and breathe.  The groundlessness, bottomlessness, suddenly becomes some space.  A little room…there’s opening.  We don’t know what to do, don’t know where to go, don’t know how this happened, don’t know why we did.  “Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all...Life is like that.  We don’t know anything.  We call something bad; we call it good.  But really we just don’t know.”

“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing.  We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

Blemishes

“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”

– all quotations Pema Chodron

Too Big to Know (Essential Readings in the Philosophy of LIS)

I’m currently reading Too Big To Know by David Weinberger and quite intrigued by his observations – Lane’s account is a cogent analysis of why.

 

Sense & Reference

If David Weinberger is to be believed, the Internet hasn’t just changed how we access information, it has altered the very meaning of ‘knowledge’. In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Weinberger claims that “for the coming generation, knowing looks less like capturing truths in books than engaging in never-settled networks of discussion and argument.” Supposedly, the networked, collaborative, and social nature of the Internet has changed our very understanding of knowledge to the point that knowledge is no longer tied to concepts of truth, objectivity, or certainty. Instead, as Weinberger argues in his recent book, Too Big to Know, “knowledge is a property of the network” (p. xiii). That is, the Internet has profoundly changed what it means to be a fact, to be true, or to be known. This book has been making the rounds among librarians, so I thought it might be a good idea…

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