and more “…” more “…” more-than

“the more than us in us that is at that moment irreducible to meaning or satisfaction”

Jacques Lacan

“our repeated baffling by the trauma of a Real”

-Peter Schwenger-

“the ordinary is not ordinary; it is extra-ordinary, uncanny”

Martin Heidegger

WORDS AND THE MURDER OF THE THING 

by Peter Schwenger

(read online for free!)

Juame Plensa sculpture

“What hope do I have of attaining the thing that I push away?

My hope lies in the materiality of language, in the fact that words are things too…A name ceases to be the ephemeral passing of nonexistence and becomes a concrete ball, a solid mass of existence; language, abandoning the sense, the meaning which was all it wanted to be, tries to become senseless”

Maurice Blanchot

As relates to…

 

bakhtin2

I have wanted to share (for years) the significance and import of Mikhail Bakhtin‘s manner of thinking, writing in the formation of my own worldview and understanding of the confounding irritations of working in language and the interactional miracles of the medium.  C.S. Peirce and Bakhtin strike me as two composers with whom I do not encounter a brilliantly organized thought or true-ringing arrangement of letters that they are not echoed in.  I discover re-presentations and simulacra of their models, but rarely extensions, corrections, or improvements.

With that in mind, I have been poring through a multi-authored volume entitled Bakhtinian perspectives on language and culture: meaning in language, art, and new media edited by Bostad, Brandist, Evensen and Faber.  Note-taking, underlining, cross-referencing, formulating, and it has occurred to me that these texts are SO mesh-marked with mnemonic traces for me, that I should simply provide interested readers access to all I can link.  Setting out to locate a Pdf of the introduction and chapter 2: “Rhetoric, the Dialogical Principle and the Fantastic in Bakhtin’s Thought” I came across the entire collection available online – and so I offer it here.  If you begin, and the perspective captivates you – read on – to the chapters that carry concepts you are passionate about.  If not, never ye mind!  I am happy that texts like this can be available – not easily “stumbled upon” in contemporary bookstores and libraries (unfortunately).

To life:

Bakhtinian Perspectives

 

par example:  “Language is to be experienced as an interaction of signs neither neutral nor innocent: the word bears the burden of the contexts through which it has passed.  And every speaker or listener bears the consequences of signs put into circulation, of signs he perceives and answers, of signs he picks up and makes use of for his own ends.  One cannot stifle the traces stored in them.  One has to face the cultural experience a whole language underwent in its history.  Speaking this language and listening to it one unwittingly responds to this experience – the ‘word that lies on the border between one’s own and the other,’ the ‘word that is actually half someone else’s.’  The one meaning cannot maintain itself in the face of the many meanings.  B’s concept irritatingly links the atomizing intrusion of the many meanings into the one (an act that atomises this meaning) with the idea that meaning ‘explodes’ in the contact of two different meanings.  In other words: splitting up and differentiation, accumulation and trace must be thought of as occuring in the word simultaneously…Because meaning is always a recourse to another meaning and a project for creating new meaning, it doesn not achieve a decisive, definite presence.”

And so forth….!!!!

Stammering Great Literature

“Great literature is written in a sort of foreign language.  To each sentence we attach a meaning, or at any rate a mental image, which is often a mistranslation.  But in great literature all our mistranslations result in beauty”

Marcel Proust

“Having a bag into which I put everything I encounter, provided that I am also put in a bag.  Finding, encountering, stealing instead of regulating, recognizing and judging…It is an assemblage, an assemblage of enunciation.  A style is managing to stammer in one’s own language.  It is difficult, because there has to be a need for such stammering.  Not being a stammerer in one’s speech, but being a stammerer of language itself…writing does not have its end in itself precisely because life is not something personal.  The only aim of writing is life, through the combinations which it draws…and there is no method for finding other than a long preparation…”

-Gilles Deleuze-

 

The “Right” Word

            What are we waiting for?  And why?  It’ll never get any easier, and this is remedial.

I had thought we were awaiting the word.  The right one.  Any one, but right all the same.

I had thought that.  But I didn’t know why.

Since any old word would do.  Being all we had.

Still we waited, not quite believing.

How many words do you suppose there are? we wondered.  Given multiple spellings and various languages all – how many?  And their requisite alphabetical sourcings.  I reckon we could figure it out in an equation, don’t you?  Only so many letters rearranged so many ways with up to twenty-six (or however many) letters equals = ?  For every tongue?  There are limited options.  It’s certainly not infinite, this isn’t rocket science here, or religion, so to speak.

Still, we waited.  Because, well, because we didn’t know.  Know which of the any was “right.”  By which we meant, well, by which we meant “worked” for whatever it was we desired.  Which, again, we did not know.  Leastwise I certainly did not.

I had a feeling for how it might, or that I’d like it to, feel, but wouldn’t be able to tell you how that was until I found the right words, any words, but, you know, the right one(s).  I could kind of hear the sound, how it would wrinkle into the ear and swoosh down their canals, troubling the waters.  Or what textures the air would take as it blew up out of the lungs trembling the throat and over the tapping tongue.  Some idea or sense of it, but nothing particular, not knowing the word, only the anticipation and desire.

That’s what waiting is, after all.  A hunch without a reason or cause or an outcome.  Guesswork with some directed hope.  A running of options, but unable to identify.

So we waited, not knowing what we were waiting for or on, exactly, but also because we didn’t know.

And waited.

I could imagine its shape, the work of the muscles, the grip and the tracing of lines, but I couldn’t know how to begin, not knowing what or which curve happened first.  And was it dotted or crossed or simply angles and loops?  I had no way of telling, without the word, the one I’d keep waiting for, any word, the right one.

So I kept still.  Well, actually we paced.  Walked to and fro and back and forth, ahead and around, and sometimes sat down, sort of listening I guess, looking and listening for an outline or scrawl, whisper or code, some rhythm or sound that might bring on the term, any word, but not the ones we were using, no, the next one, the “just” or “proper” or appropriate word to our intake, our output, a resonance you know, what we were waiting on.  The “correct” as it were, word, sound shape texture intonation field of references emotive trail and so forth…that one.

The discreet utterance or image that would hear us out, carry us on, would solve us.

I’m waiting.