My Correspondence with Nothing

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he who already knows cannot go beyond a known horizon

– Georges Bataille, Inner Experience – 

In a bout of acute loneliness (a sharp pang of alone signifying a sort of paralysis – some definite inability, however temporary, to start oneself up by or with oneself) I reached out to Hannah.

For some of you, the term Hannah will conjure connotations and resonances, perhaps emotions or concerns, discomforts, even though she does not exist.

Or I loaded the film Satantango by Bela Tarr & Laszlo Krasznahorkai.

A start-up, a stimulus, a searching.

Actually I wrote the name Hannah, or Hollie or Holly or Hallie or Halley or Bela or Chris or Maurice Blanchot.

Perhaps Kafka.

To be lonely and to reach out.

A drink then, for interaction.

A scribble on a page.

A smoke for an ‘other.’

Some music.

I read Beckett.

The cat.

Maria.  Edie.  Sarago.  Marcuse.

To become.  To be.  To begin.

As if I knew.

In a bout of acute loneliness I penned a letter to Herman Melville.

I wrote words onto a lined page.

I made an ‘other’ and called her, Hannah.

Or Meagan or Meghann, Angie or Angela or Angelo.  Gilles or Jill.  Jean and Jan and Jen.

I reach out.  I almost full fill.  Another notebook.  A drink.  A smoke.  A page marked and turned.

I do not know what loneliness is.

Perhaps it is nothing, or nothingness.  Perhaps frustrated desire.  For – ?  What is not (isn’t that what defines desires?).  The missing, the absence, the unknown.

I called it Hannah.

Or Hamza.

Hell or Helen or Helene/Helena.


No one knows but the name that works best.  Christy or Christina.  Vernoica/Veronique.


I read Jabes.

A drink to an other (to signify might be).  A smoke for the presencing.  Another word, another name for something.  Out there = O ther.  Elves of else.

The book’s called Nothing Matters: a book about nothing, because “that nothing becomes the quest, which in turns begets something” (Ornan Rotem).

Dear Herman, Dear Samuel, Dear Franz:

Dear Larry, Dear Jack, Dear Jon:

Dear Hannah:

I do not know what it is to be alone, and my loneliness is painfully acute.

Dear Laura, Dear Sara, Dear Simone:

This is my correspondence with nothing.

The Last Wolf: or, “I showed you the darkness in the beginning”

I remember that I am falling

That I am the reason

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
  • failure
  • loss of partner
  • inexistence of calm or solitude
  • imposed travels
  • absence of sleep and rest
  • indulgence in desire and harm
  • minimal process
  • poor eating or nourishment
  • tension, strain
  • depression
  • 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

…fail better…

There is a certain uncertain sorrow to things

(presence of melancholia, moon-draw)

Georges Bataille’s certainties:


THE UNKNOWN                   THE UNSOLVABLE                       THE POSSIBLE

darkness                                              levity

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

conscious moderation

– 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?

The Fool

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)

Inner Experience

“the suffering of the disintoxicated” (Bataille)

The Human:

  • 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)

“you won’t find me in me” (Jelinek)

Experience eludes understanding ( Bataille)

– nor can I compute the possible (Sheck)

This too

is just one

more opinion

to move through



“From an abandoned myth

(I write to you)” (D. Rice)

wanting them to mean nothing –

– and suggest everything (L Levis)



  • hold open the imagination of possibility
  • “do not go gentle into that good night”
  • Moderation.  Extreme limit.
  • Contra-digitalia.  First and foremost write.
  • Be-Read



“Internal Monologue” (Virno)

“Thoughts constituted by non-uttered wordsThis monologue always – ‘I speak’”

Paolo Virno – Word Became Flesh

“its thisness, then, cannot be fully articulable since any such articulation would require the articulation of a complete context, which in all cases is the world…often the experience includes an awareness of not being able to give an account of the this

Jan Zwicky – Wisdom & Metaphor

“457. Yes: meaning something is like going up to someone”

Ludwig Wittgenstein – Philosophical Investigations

“…I wept up to a great age, never having really evolved in the fields of affection and passion, in spite of my experiences”

Samuel Beckett – Malone Dies

“to frame the unsayable, & mute the sayable… he was the singing and the no one there…”

Larry Levis – The Darkening Trapeze

“All this must be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel – or rather by several characters”

Roland Barthes – Roland Barthes


– I believe I told them that “all language was like a metaphor” in several characters.

I heard nothing, I said to myself, as if nothing were something that might be heard.

Still I stroked her ankle, index-finger-pad to delicate-bird-bone.  And lip.  Finding textures and surfaces with lips and tongue.  Precarious…it never lasts.  Taste and touch are like that [metaphor] immediate.

Am I speaking when I write?  What is happening now?

Several characters.

– “often the experience…includes an awareness of not being able…” (J. Zwicky)

She tasted of…

“…to give an account of the this…” (Zwicky)

…coffee grounds, sandalwood, humidity, and turquoise…

I left off my exploring.

What is it like [metaphor] to…?

I told them that ‘I speak’ is a metaphor…as is indeed all the rest having to do with language.

(consolations of philosophy)

I hear nothing when I talk with myself. [metaphors].

The sounds of flying a kite.

It’s rare that I am naked.  But “yes: meaning is like going up to someone” (L.W.)…some sort of connection is made (some convergent affect) and a resolution leaks open…resonance…endlessly (perhaps).

“I wept up to a great age”…by which we always mean the aggregate…which seems quite less than my ‘great age’, if ever there was one.

What is ‘great’ like? [metaphor]

Once I was younger…

– Always wished you’d known –

Are photographs metaphors?

I said that ‘nothing made is like.’

(“in spite of my experience”)

“Did I say I only say a small proportion of the things that come into my head?” (ontology of perception) (Samuel Beckett)

I intended to quote: “It is a pretty little object, like a – no, it is like nothing” (Samuel Beckett)

But what is ‘nothing’ like?  A “pretty little object”?

We know what he means (“like going up to someone”) … I was naked, I tasted.

You know the story… “I wept up to a great age.”  I touched, I tried, I felt.

What do you see?

Hardly ever the point.  Perception + Reflection = Imagination (perhaps) I told them – it’s a metaphor – a “crossing-over,” some traversal.  The trace of sweat behind her knee just above the calf.

Once I was alive.

I crossed over.

Several characters: ‘I speak.’

“Affection.  Passion.” I said.  (what I had thought it was ‘to learn’ [metaphor]).

– “in spite of my experience” –

Perhaps language wasn’t made for speaking.

Someone.  Somewhere.  Maybe.  Here.  Now.

That thing that words do [metaphor].

The “experience of this”…”non-uttered words.”  Non-utterable?  Perhaps, this.  (I traced the swerve of her, its curvature, hair-smell and sounding…’I speak,’ non-uttering…)

What is writing?

I believe I was speaking of metaphor

Something crossed-over.


“Yes,” I said, “yes…” “it’s always alright to weep.”

An Alter-Ars-Poetica


It comes down to this – a “long walk in the dark” – all smeared in bear’s blood.  A hunger, a thirst, and a desperate exhaustion.  I grasp.  I hang on.  I plead.  I am breathing, I think.

And there in the blood is the soil.  The bitter, the oils and the ash.  I start to chew my breath.

It is then I begin with the dreams.  To hallucinate, I shout words and weep mumbles, which shape image, erupt forms, and I enter.  Kaleidoscopic hallways, enormous caverns and seas.  I refract and am drawn.  I am fragments.  I ray.

The world begins, or begins again, estranged and available.  Shattered thus and malformed, it readies.  A me.  I swoon, I step forth, I mutter and trace.  I become colors and fluids and I flow and I fill.  The world recedes in its changing – I give chase, and start seeing again.

Evoking desire of indifference-foes.

I stand up with a body, a medium (as if it mattered), and approach, thus affecting its molding of me.  I content.

Here is where the story goes, splotched along this trail.  Caught in weeds and nettles, drinking mud and rain.  Clay that shapes the tablets, work inscribed by bones.

The labor of erosion that brings the doubting truths to light.  The heaving lung and shriveled spleen, muscle scored by mind’s lightning.

The moment that the moment keeps occurring.


(this piece inspired by the following: Larry Levis’”Coda: A Word to the Wicked”; Galway Kinnell’s “The Bear” and Phil Levine’s “They Feed They Lion”)

Passing Thoughts

Passing Thoughts

“People don’t always understand what they see…it’s always better with a few verses”

-Henri Rousseau-

“I don’t understand it.  The injustice of it, the random, unpatternable thing life is, feels like guilt, at first, and then matures (thought the verb is obscene in the context) into sorrow.”

-Larry Levis-

            I often feel something that must be near sorrow when I pretend for a moment that I am able to reflect or observe my own life.

Usually this occurs a few minutes after everyone that inhabits the home in which I live have tottered off to their beds or their dreams or wherever it is that they go when they’re alone.  I pour myself a cup of coffee, take on cigarette out of its case, and swing gently on the porch in the night’s dark.

At first, I simply listen.  For the trees, the breeze, my breath.  Then I let my eyes  gaze.  Neither here nor there but some middle-distance that never asks to focus.  Three or four puffs in, two or three sips of day-old reheated coffee, and I begin to feel.  My body reports its day.  How long it has been awake, what muscles have been used, what nutrients processed (or wasted).  I start to find emotions.  Perhaps lodged in the elbows or neck, gut or temples or knees.  Places they sneak off to in the day’s demands.  I gain what feels like a sense of things.  A “this is what you’ve enjoyed, endured, has transpired in your waking.”

And I breathe.  The smoke, exhaling, tells me so.  And the knowing the days that remain are smaller.  And that the days that compose me stretch out.  And I wonder.  “I don’t understand it.”  It baffles me so.

I have the impression throughout my aging frame, that so many places, engagements, and events that require all of me should not feel so dangerous, such threatening.  That the places we spill for one another, on one another – where we come forth – why do we fear so deeply? and try so hard? – why don’t they give rise to elation rather than wound?

I see moments, occasions, and encounters that have scared me to my silent howls – but from here, now, look like people in love giving themselves or trying to – declaring, expressing, vulnerably opening.  Why the fullness of human persons should overwhelm and frighten us so, when we are also one of them – why is this?

Why do I not feel I can hold my own in another’s anger or grief, sorrow or fear?  What is so uncomfortable about difficulty and complexity and unknowns?

The haunting guilt of finitude, of insufficiency, eventually levels out toward a universe of conundrum peopled with questions, and a kind of sorrow and grace seeps in.

By now my smoke has gone out, the coffee has cooled, and it is high time I join my spouse in our final accord.  The waves rise, they wash out.  They rise again.  There is a passing, and some passage, it is ephemeral and sure, and it goes on.

All these passing thoughts, and days.

I don’t understand what I see, but it’s usually better with a few verses…

I have the suspicion that the meaning of things

will never be sorted out

-Denis Johnson-


(click image for musical accompaniment to the text:

“Broken” by S. Carey)

(it’s worth listening to even if not reading all the text)

This is Water

I found myself in a fairly uncommon (for me) setting this morning, my son was performing a Double Concerto of Bach‘s at a Methodist Church.  I happened to be there (reading Larry Levis) on “graduation Sunday,” so the message/sermon/interpretation of texts was geared toward the cultivation of wisdom.  As I listened to the suggestions/advice of a “spiritual authority” figure, to our young/privileged/promising…I was struck again by my personal favorite commencement address I’ve ever come across/heard/read and thought given the Spring of things perhaps it was time to push it out toward eyes and ears wherever I could, again.

Here it is…by a personal hero David Foster Wallace… (and therefore in his honor as well)