Mappa Mundi


The key question is not what a given sentence means but what it does, especially how it does whatever it does…to know is by definition to say that something is something else and be believed when one says it – Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal

Whatever we might say, we see in all that we say. – Sophocles

Only apparently is it a ‘presentation.’ – Martin Heidegger

It follows that in the world of humans any mark is better than no mark, for without categorization there is nothing at all, not even nothing at all. – Olsson, Abysmal

How small life is here / and how big nothingness.  – Robert Walser, Oppressive Light

Addenda of sorts

Gunnar Olsson

“…in the universe of the sign there are no clear-cut identities, only delayed differences.  Never a dead end, always an already-but-not-yet; never a genuine original, always an imperfect copy.  Language is a simulacrum of simulacra, the privileged hiding-place of the psychoanalyst’s repressed supplement.

“Pushed to its own limits, the difference between identity and difference is that in the world of the former everything sticks to itself, while in the heaven of the latter everything escapes from itself.  Comparison rests on a foundation of difference, for once a sign is interpreted it no longer is what it used to be.  And exactly therein lies the crux of the matter, for it is well established that the structure of language itself makes perfect translation impossible.  It follows that reality is never what it is said to be, for reality and language are never one and the same, a painful lesson

“The conclusion is straightforward: although word and object are always related, they are never identical.” – Gunnar Olsson, Abysmal


A philosophical problem has the form: “I don’t know my way about.”

– Ludwig Wittgenstein –

“The silent spaces between words often speak louder than the words themselves”

-Gunnar Olsson – 

Signifying Writing, Figure 1

Opicinus De Canistris World Map
Figure 1

Opicinus De Canistris World Map


The map began as a scribble, a doodle.  Begins as a failure to write, to “compose.”

In lieu of a word there’s a wiggle of pen wandering aimless in search.  Cartography-graphology-psychology – a loitering for logos.

Begins this way – in hope of words, a sort of squiggle.  A body desiring a mind.  To show up, to take over, provoke or convince – to appear, make a meaning, disclose – to figure toward sign.  Some unconcealing.

The signal’s not there, so it moves: the hand, the instrument, the breath and the heart – are they tools?  And for what?  A cartographer’s dream.  Of no training, no knowledge, even reason is lacking.

A pen making marks on a page, mapping none.  Tracing nonsense.  It begins in this way, and it leads, so he hopes (it hopes, is hope, is desire).

The scrawl travels over the page – given borders and boundaries, arbitrary and set – 6”x9” and lined with a soft viscous grey.  He (it) slows down.  Just a hand and an arm and a shoulder – in motion – holding a technical device filled with fluid – black, yes, like bile, but less tacky, diluted – it flows, threading lines – it’s con-fusion – yet taking, biting, inscribed.  Something happens.  Drawings are locked to a medium stock.  Incomprehensibles stained on a page.

It crawls on.


This mapping begins in a loss.  He is lost.  It is lost.  Doesn’t “know.”  Just beginning, because – with desire.  It is driven, compelled, WRITER WANTS (for to write) with “nothing to write, and no means to write it” yet constrained to keep writing, to expunge merely SOMEthing, some THING.  Which is NO thing, no THING, but to mark.  It goes on.

Makes a map, a map-ping, tangled series of lines meaning nothing, no THING, but creating TO-WARD.  Ward off absence, off void, ward off death, this is to – .

It (he) is tired.  Is forlorn.  Is an absence and loss, a re-mission, re-cursion, re-morse.  And not even that clear.

Scribbles on.  NOT a map.  NOT directions.  For NO where to go – NOW here, now HERE, no-where.  Which begins all the longing, for “he’s” heard it said, found it written – in signs, in-scribed, sign-i-fied: but NOT HERE.  Not in him or this body.  NOT THIS.  No sense.  Non-sense.  “It’s” not “working.”

Trail dwindles along cross the page.  It’s a map.  Just of being.  NOW here.  Now.  HERE.  Looks like this – some electrocardiomusculoskeletalpsycognilinguadigital-gram.  From this angle, this tool, these techniques.  As a Ouija.  No meaning.  Saussurating.  Arbitrary.  Mediate.  Only markings.

It falters.

And so it begins – as a failure to write – as a scribble – an assay – a tribute to write – that cannot, that will not, that does not…quite occur.


Locations in the Mapping of Meaning

In my efforts to ground and attend to my experience and express it with honesty (see Opening the Hand) I have developed a map of locations – realms of the process that have risen as prominent regions within the difficulty, effort, grief, growth and procession of engaging dramatic change…  You can view it here:  Locations on the Map of Meaning.

To view the text for each mode, simply hover over the nodes title, click or press the + button or the down arrows beneath each location title to see full content.  Some nodes lead to further nodes or you can use the buttons along the bottom of the screen.  Repeating my former disclaimer…

All of this is to say that I plan a series of posts that will be intensely personal, self-revelant, my own way of reaching toward my experience, my being, and selecting language with which to mark it down – for re-memory, re-cognition, observation, reception, attention, account.  These are journal entries, frankly.  They are what I have to write.  I am calling them “Mapping the Meaning.”  Since I know very few of you personally, in your whole presence, I expect confession, inquiry, and its self-circular expression to genuinely interest or benefit very few of you.  For me, it is writing with an open hand.”

Locations on the Map of Meaning

Disjunctive Cartography – Our Propensities, Asking after the Nature of Nobody, cont’d

“The map is not the territory.  That’s an expression which  means

the world does not match the picture in our heads”

-Lemony Snicket, All the Wrong Questions, vol. 1

            It thinks.  It considers that it has not done with it.  It reasons that I will know more tomorrow.  Its hope of reading, of selecting and organizing, of patterning and arranging toward some partial whole, toward an item, an element, a concept or thought (any Other) that it might also become (or have been, an “I”).

In other words, it requires difference.

Yesterday I played soccer with  my son, it concocts.  I was the Other experiencing, moving, tripping-shouting-laughing – discretelyother than the ball or grassy ground, other than the leafy trees and wind, the boy (the one I called son), it was anOther yesterday, and therefore it may refer to that example of human-in-a-context (a surround of not-it) by a meaningful (adequately functional) pronoun (name-toward), namely “he” or “I.”

I gained definition by my surroundings, it conjures.  Any object will do (it’s perceiving assorted matter and energy, its limbs rest on some as “desk,” the 10” fence as “books” and the process of sensing, transforming to perception as “time” and mediates “it” as separate-though-connected – of the same stuff (matter) but in motion and of a unique form (relating to) – and names its organized system “self,” “me,” “I”).

It meditates (categorizes, classifies, identifies, compares and contrasts) on these sensations/percpetions/affectations and wonders.  “It was I,” it hears without sound – a confession aimed at a photo of a boy-child near against an aged man I knew as “grandpa.”  I looked so different – of different cells and height and weight, blood pressure and vision, facial contours, bones, hair and skin – so very different (it looks at a reflection) – how is it the “same” (identical to) “I” it is now?

Or might be tomorrow – through an utterly unknowable future of events, weather, interactivities, sensations, affectations and cognitions.  Will it be me tomorrow?  It wonders how identity can withstand such difference – variance, change, even replacement and erasure – and still meaningfully or validly considered “same”?

It places its’ head on its’ wrists.  It writes these words (is writing) in order to create (or craft) a recognizable trace, an effect, communally learned, socially agreed-upon marks that construct a momentary reflexivity its’ own existence.  A sort of extrinsic, partial it, to feel like also an I, at a moment.

It in-scribes in a medium, borrowed from others – borrowed, acquired, manipulated, stolen – a kind of proof to it that it is, and is unique, separatively connected, yea, conjoined seamlessly, molecularly, and yet… distinguishable… therefore I-able.  Referable.  Nominal.

It senses discomfort in parts labeled (categorized, classified, i.e. generalized and lumped indiscriminately/arbitrarily or learned) “head” and “neck” and “shoulders.”  It shuts its eyes.  I slept well last night, that is, I woke refreshed, my discomforts (aches) diminished.  It remembers I went to bed dry-eyed and suffering allergic responses to Springtime.  It drinks coffee.  It is not the same.

This is a portion of a map that does not represent the territory.  There are, perhaps, moments – instances – in which I fit with my surround – but usually it is organizing a mapping conference of sensation, affect, percept and infinite inputs coupling to pre-formed acquired categories and classes, fuzzy generalizations to stencil lines and rivers, mounds and fissures with very little correspondence to the world.

It writes this as “my world,” or “the world that I in-habit.”

-Becoming Human: Asking after the Nature of Nobody pt. 1