Unspoken Fragments

Through someone else’s blog award list I recently discovered The Dream Journal Today – a remarkable blog straightforwardly recounting dreams.  It has stimulated me to pay more attention to what my brain is doing in its “off-hours.”  The post regarding my longing for knowledge of my father is such a result, as is the following post, gathered through the past night.  I have the hunch my psychophysiology works over emotion when I’m out…something my waking mind deters.  Whatever the case, I have found the ritual to be as intriguing as working with photo-prompts to dislodge other-conscious concerns, and recommend it to writers everywhere as a kind of exercise in translation.

Thrown on my back as from a jungle gym – panicked in the way of breath-smashed bodies.  Helpless then, disempowered.

Lying next to you in our warm nest of bed, nose and right eye microscopically near the flesh of your chest – the sharp distinction of its tattoo’s inky night and the blemishless cream covering your major pectorals.

I see it falling, the exploding crush of a thick plate of glass the size of a small wall and maybe four inches thick – variegated and stained – slicing and dicing my face with the stories you don’t share.

The night is full of phrases.  Intimacies shredded by the unspoken, the secrets.  A literal compaction of my face in bloodied fragments – the world a shattered windshield.

Sleeping fitfully you deliver direct language through the dark.  “This is wrong and this is wrong and this is wrong…with you.”  I don’t remember details, only that I’m broken like a vase of porcelain on the floor of an empty manor.

The decompression and drainage, the fracturing damage of all you hold apart.  Discommunication.  What is withheld.  The feeling of what happens when I supply the captions to your silence.


“What is fiction after all, if not a kind of purposeful dreaming?”

-Jonathan Franzen-

Gathering Information : “Making Sense” : I am that I am

“I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today, of which maybe 25 are important.  My job is to make some sense of it…[I want to write] stuff about what it feels like to live.  Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live.”

-David Foster Wallace-


That sense that the moon is obscure – cracked or marred in some indefinable way.  That it might never rain.  That parenting equals living with people you helplessly love.

Or marriage as painting, but you can’t control the medium, or even learn to think in it.  You’ll never be wood, cloth, pigment or oils.  I was never good at math, chemistry or geometry.  For making a masterpiece, my chances are slim.  Manic-depressive’s “in love” – like playing chess with marbles and confusing the rules of the games.

It seems possible that people who age wish they were young – tighter, unwrinkled, new-made.  I don’t know – people don’t seem satisfied, somehow.  You get the feeling, sometimes, I don’t know…I get the feeling sometimes that people wished they weren’t people.  You know, that, like, they wished they were simple or something.  Simple scientifically.  Not complex, elaborate organisms, you know?  But more like a single cell or an amoeba – something with apparent purpose or sort of unified mission.  That they knew what to do.  Or would – if they could just pull everything together, into line.

I think that’s what people mean by “making sense”?  Something like that.  Something like inventing God, some unified theory, some golden thread, some identity, some narrative.  People are weird like that, but it makes for a fascinating species – the Storytelling Species – ingenious and fantastic, often unbelievable – the lengths to which these collectives will go to spin a yarn.  Fit experience.

They’ll use numbers and actions and colors.  Matter or energy and form.  Inventing for anything a space and a duration.  It looks like fighting with nature, but it’s kinda not – ‘cause it’s also how they perceive it.  People.

With these enormously intricate mechanisms for constructing order, fabricating texture and variation and difference.  To mash it all back together uniquely – imprinted, as it were – some new amalgam and full of traces – shadows and whispers of origins.  Con-fused.  Remade.  Undone.

I used to think that was a purpose – to give meaning.  Now I see it as a condition.  A convention of rare and specific animals.  At least we convene.  We wouldn’t do well isolate – craving a single-cell or elemental type existence.  We’re collectives – conventional conceptions.  People! (said with a huff-sigh of air and exhausted incredulity).

You gotta love ‘em!  ‘Cause if you’re reading this – “making sense” of these frenetic marks and spaces, light and shadow – then you’re one of them, and it does you no good to resist or despise yourself.  Your own kind.  Though people can, and many do.

Funny (peculiar) how you’ll find people that want to be much greater, grander than the mysterious incalculable beings they are, and then a bundle that wish they were less, tinier, singular things, and then the incredible bulk of people who somehow conflate the two: believing simplicity to be grandeur, the one – the all, everything/nothing, unity/diversity same difference and so on – go figure!  (Really, try it).

Let’s choose a pinnacle example: say unpack “God” or the workings of atoms and molecules, hell, even protoplasm – seems we could learn an awe-full LOT from each of these straightforward messages we uncover: “I am that I am.”


A quick response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, a quirky, multi-faceted, and wonderfully open collective of writers from all over the globe riffing their words to an image – a weekly task I am thankful for, and company I admire.  So, from the midst of this holiday week in N. America, something:

And Yet

Mom is right.  It is hard to deny that something points a clear direction, unambiguously, and difficult to argue.  But for reasons I’m at pains to reveal or explain, I am uneasy.  Seriously, I couldn’t ask for a more definite sign – but is clarity everything?  I mean, what about signals from below?  Like how I feel?  Or that strange uninterpretable “intuitive” stuff?   Something isn’t right.  As if I were standing at an intersection without a crossroad, a highway with no exits, opened out before me, shining bright.  And yet.  I have misgivings, doubts.  Troubling the obvious. Are all exceptions exhausted?  Every option foreclosed?  Pressure is on, expectations real – I’ll be a laughing idiot to choose otherwise.  And yet.  And yet.  I have the feeling it will end in a horrible guffaw.

N Filbert 2012

Holly Suzanne and the Layering of Experience

It is my great pleasure to be composing something for myself regarding my wife’s art in regards to an upcoming showing of hers in Wichita KS (see below for details).  I am accustomed to engaging her work with an ekphrastic/participatory sensibility and interaction rather than an observer’s point of view.  The pieces below are mixed media encaustic works by Holly Suzanne on 6×6 or 8×8 wood boards.

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“First my…forever my…grown in a…garden” of hands, words, expressions, visages and image.

The mind in bloom, the mouth as fruit, our world in our hands, are nothing new.

Underlying love vaguely aware of an end from the stars of night to ground of flesh,

in layers.

I was thinking of text-emotion-change-emotion-text-emotion-change.  Of over and again.  Begin.

With rarely the perspective to see in, or through, as we are forming and tattering layers simultaneously.  Always.

There is something viscous about us, like warm wax.

“Turning away…she saw herself…”  But not really.  Recollection rearranges, perception also blinds.  Assemblers and dissemblers we.  Our stories.  Growing them even as we prune.  Story over story, backwards, forwards, like the strokes of a brush, the trembling of hands, motions of a body at rest.  What comes out, in, or through depends on the moment.  Each story a backstory with a curious future.

“First my…forever my…” ever-altering “garden,” the world in my hands behind my face.  I tinker and trouble, collage and create, rationally embodied in emotion.  What shields and separates reveals and connects: our skin, our language(s), our sighs.

Even our  names are malleable, oily pools.

Look at, look in, look through.  And over again.


If near Wichita…you can look for yourself!!:

Holly Suzanne Show: Mead’s Corner Coffee House
October 31-November 30, 2012

see more of Holly’s works here: Holly Suzanne: A Gallery of Creative Artistry

Holly Suzanne Fine Art

and visit her blog! Lifeinrelationtoart

Related: Show Announcement – Mead’s Corner (Combinatory Art in Motion)

The Pleasures of Reading : An Aspect : Multiplying Translations

The Pleasure of Reading

In other words (than what?  than which?) we all of us are readers, all of us writers.

That is a pleasure.

And all of us, always, doing both.  Simultaneously.


Speaking of my textbooks (were we?) – information sciences, developmental and behavioral psychology, reference services, librarianship / and the research to the side – physics, evolutionary biology, neuro- and cognitive sciences / my pleasures – novels, poems, stories, others’ blogs, visual, aural, literary artifacts / my relational – wife, children, family, friends, society, culture – gestures and vibes and dialogues and signs / my “self” – sensations, perceptions, formulations of these, reformulations, adjustments and maneuvers.

In other words, at all times, I am reading, even if only my lack of memorable dreams, or pulses and breaths.  And writing it all in actions, movements, responses, adjustments of speaking and writing and making.

It is a metaphor, obviously.  Perhaps.


Roman Jakobsen purported that “all meaning is a form of translation, and multiple translation (polysemy) is the rule rather than the exception.”  (I am translating his text just now into another con-text).

Wolfgang Iser’s (perhaps, anyway insofar as I am translating it here) concept of actual text (text as it is recorded by an author) and virtual text (actual text as read by a reader).

This is an aspect of the deep living pleasures of reading/writing for me.


An author/speaker/artist/scientist/mother/etc. has an urge or sensation – a possibility of action/behavior/message/idea (a virtual text) and translates it through multiple processes and levels of activity through some medium into an actual text/painting/utterance/experiment/recorded idea/sound, etc.  There it is in the real world – a physical artifact in time and space – added – if only for a moment.  Transforming (simultaneously) its maker into a recipient (translating a now existent text/sound/behavior/gesture/sculpture/experience for him or herself) and if any witness/participant/auditor/recipient or reader is in his or her environment they are simultaneously interacting (via translation through their own tools, language, perceptions, sensations, mood, etc) with the actual text, writing a virtual text (translating) of their own.

And it goes on.  And can be done innumerable times, this process, whether using an identical actual text over and over, or simply writing/reading life as it occurs, making it occur.


Paul Ricouer:  “stories are models for the redescription of the world.”  Possibly.  Or at least redescriptions (translations) of models for redescription.

Iser: “the relative indeterminacy of a text allows a spectrum of actualizations…literary texts initiate ‘performances’ of meaning rather than actually formulating meanings themselves…the reader receives it by composing it.”


Language, action, behavior as possibilities rather than certainties.


So that I can encounter with all I’ve encountered/experienced an actual text by psychologist Jerome Bruner translating these very quotes and contents with all he has experienced and translate it with the multiple translations of family life and being a human organism and novels and pains, poems and stories, paintings and laws, translated with data and education, emotions and animals, translating with you and a computer, internet, digits and bits, translating into…

a great pleasure of reading is writing reading

or, “a writer’s (reader’s) greatest gift to a reader (writer) is to help him become a better writer (reader)”

– Jerome Bruner (parentheses mine).


literary texts as “epiphanies of the ordinary”

-James Joyce-



Are words the poison?  The inevitable, unavoidable miscommunication?  75-80% of communication is “nonverbal,” yet according to the American Library Association even a corpse is a “document.”

What is it with semantics?  Is it sickness, like some original stain in brains such as ours – a terminal disease called “fabrication of meaning”?  “Second Sight”?

So that an arm movement, a particular gait, an expiration or whittled scar in rock will all be given significance?  All some addition, complexiting, a superadded content?

What is this penchant?  From where does it come?

It looks like the survival mechanism we think of (signify) as “prediction,” i.e. guesswork.

If we can surmise, invent, fantasize possible leads or outcomes…we’d have a better shot at preparing for it.

We make stories.

Often this is paranoia.

It’s the avoidance and terror of death.

Guess a metaphor for every existing moment, action, thing…and possibly you will survive it…know what’s coming and how to defend against or wriggle past.

Therefore, an alphabetical letter like a post-it note on possibilities, a warning-sign for danger, a diagram of fear.

Her head turns quickly – off put?  Offended?  Alert to me?  Tuned in?


Octagonal red sign at the corner…I stop.

Top sphere illuminated…I go.

“Crack!” I shift, swivel, flee.

One finger extended, my chest concaves, shoulders furl.

Drip, drip, my mouth begins to salivate.

Anticipation, desire, intuition, knowledge – all spawned in this erratic, sensationalized guessing.

Charlatans and spoofs, all of us.


“Interpreters,” “attributers of meaning” – he/she was so wrong, he/she isn’t listening,

hears, sees, feels what he/she wants (or doesn’t want – desiring either way) to.


Words are not the problem.  Signs, symbols, gestures, tones and moods – not the problems.


It’s the fear of death, our innate paranoia, our strict steeped instinct for survival.


Apathy might cure it.  Certainly suicide.  Some embracing of the facts.


It remains to be seen.


It will look like destruction.


These are only words.

N Filbert 2012


“…I do not know what to do…

We begin, or end, there.”

“while poetry will be the clear, the fact of the head, 

prose will be the coming, and going.  Around.

…It is not a matter of better, or worse.  There is no competition.”

-Robert Creeley-

It happens


            It would happen.  The things approach us.  We feel them in our horizons.  Extending out behind us.  A sort of fullness.  A swelling, sweltering cool.  Billowing possibility.  Stand and stare, even in our movement, unseeing.  We blindly gaze.  Caught short, upended, the rhythm is certainly sea.  We are dry.  We will happen.  We are bound to.  Look out.

Remote murmur.  You know.

Not trauma.  Distant thrumble.

You speak.

Echo absorbs.

It would happen.  Consider.

It will happen.  Just you wait.

A world is a kind of ode.

Your body a stylus.

We are here.

N Filbert 2012

for Friday Fictioneers, August 24, 2012

Dismantling the Art(s)

Interviewing Correspondence (-ts)


Composing letters is good exercise for writing.  Imagined audience and relation, fitting language to a function with a purpose.


Dear WordPress Users:

                        I regret to inform you.  I’d like to congratulate you.  It has come to our attention.  In the matter regarding.  Allow me to introduce myself.

            The address sets a tone.  There is little to waste.  Readers can be lost in a matter of moments, of letters, of marks.

Sex.  Hate.  Cookies.  Pups.  Nudity.  Self-loathing or injuries sustained.  Rants.  Cuss.  Sexual organs.  Deviant tastes or behaviors.  Righteousness.

            These terms as keywords capture the bulk of contemporary humanity.  Money, sugar, self-sustenance/survival/success, fame.  Beauty, distress, the hideous, tragedy and laughs work as well.  Also superlatives.  And challenges.

You’ve never seen a _____ this size!  Fires burn out of control, lives lost…  Wowza! She’s got _____!!   You have no idea _____!  Did you ever imagine _____ could be so good?!

            Direct-ion.  Scan billboards and headlines, logos and slogans – these things are devised to capture attention, activate interest.  Use imagery and images – somehow we’ve evolved into a very visual culture – we taste, hear, touch and listen – with our eyes!  Watch a video with the sound turned off.  Gaze at some pictures of food.  Read poems.  I challenge you (smiley-face) – what are you unable to sense…just using your eyes?  (Whatever it is will cause you to act).

Action works.  Activate.  Stimulate.  Request.  Invite.  Offer.  Command.  Insult.

You really have no concept of what you’re doing here, do you?  I mean, reading this?  Hoping for some pleasurable payoff of insight or delight!  Something succulent or soothing, entertaining or erotic, secrets or solutions.  You selfish bastards!  Give a little!  It’s all ‘what’s in it for ME!?’  Sucking the world dry like these pages…

            Give people something to find that they’ll consider “wrong” – people LOVE to feel “right.”  Scapegoating works well – and it can be anything – people will follow: bottled water, big government, Christianity, children, homosexuals, genres, stupidity…the lemmings will leap.


Dear WordPress Users:

            I regret to inform you that the following letters are not art. 

“Works of art represent webs of sounds, movements and ideas… Human beings are contradictory… Freedom is the law of human nature…At the basis of every artistic work, every stage in artistic construction, lie similar principles of revealing the contradictions… artistic compositions show the fallacy of simple solutions… one can do anything, but there is no purpose…”

(all Viktor Shklovsky, from “On the Dissimilarity of the Similar”)

            Dear WordPress Users:

I urge you: exercise freedom and complexity!

Utilize everything!


da Man-O’-Word(s)