Fictions of Family, pt. 10

the developing words:


Family 1

and part 10:


It taking so long to figure it out.  What it’s “about.”

Discombobulates like sporadic noise.  The fragments living are.


Four decades, seven children from three wives until he recognizes relation.  Which changes things.  Significantly.

It is the third wife (times charm) – out three strikes she staid on.  Stays on.  The difference between things.

In relation to one another.  Evolving perception.  The what-not, call it “aboutness.”  Or in relation to…


This in relation to that is about this much this high this far.  Or else nothing at all.  In itself.  By itself.

By himself, barely amount, insignificant cipher, plus three plus seven plus anything adding up, er, becomes.

Alone is less than one, or, not a number.  It takes 1 to know 1, in other words, all-one really means no 1.  Unless distinguished from something else, another 1, an other.


This he could tell.  The third wife, the difference between.  The aboutness.  Differing shapes entirely, nearer still, at this distance.

1 cannot equal.  Impossible equation.  Might as well be naught, be 0 – a 1 wrapped around itself (turned-in) – revealing just a hole, something seen through.  Looked straight through.

Telescope, microscope, still substance unseen, a looking at, really, looking for.  Simply looking, opened at both ends.  Perhaps a simple function.  What an organism is, alone.


She calls out, in fact pursues him halfway across.  As if to say she sees something, peering through her self-same circularity – that he is there.  He begins experience, begins to get it – something else must be looking, another 1, for him to be seen, to hear of himself.

In what she tells him.


Multiple inputs introduce noise (read chaos, read being), make possibilities, provide things to figure out.  With all the variables it takes a lot of time (to get what it’s about).

RE-GIFTING PRESENTS, part 1: Inhabiting the Medium We Inhabit

Juame Plensa sculpture

This post is an attempt at exploring and hopefully explicating (at least a little) a dialogue that began in a series of comments between the excellent thinker/writer Tocksin and myself.  The comment thread can be read in full here (if you wish), but I will highlight two sections for purposes of this post:

tocksin says: I am noticing we two like to wax philosophical at the expense of letting our characters speak. We are mere babes in the woods being raised by wolves. Tooth and nail we will fight to have our day. Write we must.
N Filbert says: I find that to be true – what you say about being babes in the woods. Wrestling with everything else inhabiting our medium.
tocksin says: Let me feel you more with what you mean by wrestling with everything else inhabiting our medium.

At which point I made some bumbling effort toward it, seemingly tangling into more confusion.  And was set thinking – how would I verbalize what I mean by the wrestling that using language is?  The next two (or more) posts will be my preliminary attempt to language into it.

I interpreted Tocksin’s first message (above) to concern our propensity as writers to be unable to “leave ourselves out of it” (e.g. to let plot and characters, narrative and action be), rather than to voice-in, reflect, trouble and scrutinize our place in the mix of it, the ourness in the howness of any languagings aboutness.  “Tooth and nail we will fight to have our day.  Write we must.”

All of this started rattling about in my old noggin with what darts around in there from Wittgenstein, William James, Gertrude Stein, Bakhtin, M.A.K. Halliday, J.R. Firth, Benjamin Whorf, C.S. Peirce, Edward Sapir, Peter Berger, and thousands of other voices and ideas regarding LANGUAGE, THOUGHT, BEING, PERCEPTION, etc…

As far as I can tell, these relations have concerned humans since humans have experienced concern.  Who are we?  What are we?  How are we?  When are we?  even from time to time expeditioning toward Why?


A few posts ago I quoted Judith Butler from her Excitable Speech to the tune of:

 “language is not a tool that merely allows meaning to happen.  Rather, the relation between language and its users represents a complex ‘matrix of intelligibility’ that makes us readable to one another.  Language, in other words, represents a framework that constitutes both the ‘doing’ and the ‘doer’ alike: the subject always exists in a condition of relation to language that implicates the person using it, as much as the addressee – ‘we do things with language…produce effects with language, and…do things to language’ because ‘language is the thing that we do.’ (from Christina Milletti).

Much greater minds than mine have attempted to tackle this – in language, with language, to language, as well as in painting and music, film and image and architecture and dance: Who are we?  What are we?  How are we?  When?  What is?  Happening?  Basic problems of being as faced by our particular type of organism’s means of awareness: senses, perceptive apparatus, and largish brain – all inputting and outputting, inter- intra- extra- extro-putting simultaneously.

Due to our conditions, one of the stickiest problems seems insurmountable – the ability to experience (consciously) BEING.  Or NOW.  The Present.  IS-ness.

In our splendiferous operations of surviving/existing, the mechanisms and processes of doing so (predictive, inductive, deductive, collaborative, receptive, perceptive, oscillatory, responsive, reactive, self-generated, externally infringed, incited, and so on – AMAZING processes!) TAKE TIME, if only nanoseconds…all to say that our perception and/or sensation of being and existing NECESSARILY are not simultaneous to its occurrence, and yet also ARE, because the organizing and perceiving of our activity also constitutes our experiences AS they occur.

This is one of the reasons William James insists on the metaphor of “stream” for our being.

Here he writes on introspection (self-reflection, becoming conscious of consciousness, or perceiving perception – what language and symbols, signs allow, enable, concoct):

“introspecting the contents of that stream, more precisely, a particular item floating along it, interrupts the streaming, arrests the item (or objectifies), detaches and isolates it.  Let anyone try to cut a thought across in the middle and get a look at its section, and he will see how difficult the introspective observation of the transitive tracts is…As a snow-flake crystal caught in the warm hand is no longer a crystal but a drop, so, instead of catching the feeling of relation moving to its term, we find we have caught some substantive thing, usually the last word we were pronouncing, statically taken, and with its function, tendency, and particular meaning in the sentence quite evaporated.  The attempt at introspective analysis in these cases is in fact like seizing a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks.”


And is also experience, experience becoming.

As I am considering language, that is – assigning description, value, reality using symbol/sign/or index to something in human experiences – I am presenting a coming-to-terms (languaging) for myself of what I attempted (languaging) to “mean” (communicate, share, RELATE) in my off-handed comment to Tocksin regarding “wrestling with everything inhabiting our medium,” as well as an hypothesis that has been haunting me since.

“Wrestling with our medium/habitat – language” means for me in this way: As I conceive (language) the being or existence of the human organism, I interpret an organism of proactive and retroactive complex processes organizing and imputing value to its environment, selectively perceiving and constructing a context or situation in which it can get what it needs to survive.  In the scheme of things (or, its organismal specificities IN RELATION TO other organisms and contexts) the human has developed metaphoric and metonymic signification capacities for purposes of more efficient and productive navigation / survival.

Language, (or humans as semiotic beings) then is a medium in the sense of a manipulator of gaps, or a “thing” insofar as it operates between, RELATIONALLY.  Signs are always IN RELATION TO.  Inner experience, outer experience, communication, description, definition, etc…a SHARED HABITAT, an activity, indeed a primary thinking process – signing experience is a composition, exploration, examination and organizing (improvisational and purposive) of our world and our perceptual relations within experience of it.

Signing – languaging world – is for us our activity of finding out, making sense, interpreting, composing and exploring being/existing.

So when we go with purpose to the page to write language – all of this is inherent to the medium – we make our world (as we experience it) inhabit language so that we can experience it and also we inhabit language in order to experience (perceive our perceiving, become conscious of our awareness).  Language is the “stuff”(?) – the medium – the lubricant of passage between ourselves and our senses and perceptions; and everything beyond those individual sensings and perceptions.  Thinking organizes and determines experience.

So self-consciously involving ourselves in language opens up all our experience (known and unknown, much like dreams) to be wrestled with in attempting to make a poem, a story, a report, or a conversation, or, even, a thought.

That is part of what I was trying to say, Tocksin.  Part two will be the idea that has haunted me since…

Immediate sources referenced:

Lyn Hejinian, The Language of Inquiry.  U. of California Press, 2000.

R.M. Berry & Jeffrey Di Leo, editors. Fiction’s Present:Situating Contemporary Narrative Innovation. SUNY Press, 2008.

Gyorgy Buzsaki.  Rhythms of the Brain.  Oxford, 2011.

Rudolfo Llinas.  I of the vortex.  MIT Press, 2002.

William James.  Principles of Psychology.  Cambridge, 1981.



“The Artist, he who even takes the shadows of things in hand…”

-Macedonio Fernandez-

“He who imagines will never know non-being.”


A morass of shadows.

A repletion of blips and flashings.

An absence : I understand.


I swipe my hand through the shadows.  I sense disturbance, but my palm returns empty, save the moisture of fog in dark woods.  If even.  There has been dust.

I stir the ashes.  I kindle the fire.  The brain a roadmap of chaos.  And intricately precise.  Subject to accident and lesion and a cross-pollination of impulses and energies beyond present calculations.  Not withstanding infinity, of course, which hardly makes sense, given the matter.

A squalor of shadows.

Currents of whispering air, of motion.

A ubiquity that trembles.

I open my mouth to the world.  I emit and inhale.  Shouting resonant within, because I have ears.  Equipped with particulars.  Apparatus.  Other cells stay quiet but do not cease, I lack the equipment to hear.  Stone, lizard, mushroom.  Light in its veils.  I cry out.  Echo =, tree hardly cares.  I’m remiss and listen myself for response.

Breathing the smoke.  I stink and I cough and I smell.  My hand passes through without ashes or mist.  I am not everywhere.  I do not know my ends.  If a melody came through like a sight or a sound, I would not name it.  I am emptying full.


As shadows thicken and disperse.

Objects as subjects and objects again.

Something live in the darkness.


That is darkness for me, not the night owl or mouse, salamander or bat, not the tree.  No, it is me, I, we, that conjure the “darkness” as difference from “light,” however similar, however same.  As if emitting symbols.  As if meaning to manufacture.  I construct a sign and call it poem, collaborate a you and a me.  We converse.  I begin.

If doubt incites a thought, thought conspires doubt to further action.  As if shadows were transparent.  And meaningless was choice.  Eye – mouth – hand : open to the world, the world opens.  I begin in signs and gestures, a collaborative entanglement, reentered.


In dispersion shadows reconvene.

Clearly thickened by old growth.

Body minding nets.


Would I make a “here” it would be “we.”  A desire for presents is relation.  What its plural ought to be (“presence”).  I unwrap unable to view the gift.  Tell me of it, will you?  “Inside” is lost in shadows.  What’s perceptible from “there”?  Tree, raven, sky.  Plastic object pulsed in heartbeat or emotion: what could I learn from “there”?

What isn’t simultaneous?  And how like the infinity we are constrained not to absorb?  Enclose me.  Lend me a form, a border, a threshold.  Entangle.  Experience may come.

“the silence of the page allows us to hear the writing”

-Octavio Paz-


79 word epic

An Epic in 79 words

In the beginning was the word, and the word was god and became human in the dialogue between, imagining; imagination becoming the domain of the humangodword – that subject/object constituting between or the recognition of being – that is, difference, fluctuate identities, change-charting actions of passing marks reanimated with each kenosis and subsequent in-dwelling, in other words, words began the perceiving that learned us something like self, necessitating others to be being, i.e. recognizable in varying contexts, backdrop origin…language.

N Filbert 2012

It rains…complicating equations, understand? (for the Unknown Unnamed)

[please bear with these ramblings…they are taking shape…and each stumbling advance leads…i promise…:)]

Standing in rain.  Under rain.  Understand.

Unknown, unnamed, still wet.  Still cleansed.  Garnering names…

One.  Other.  Wet one.  Lost one.  Un-one.  More.

Hearing one.  The replier.  Seeing one, seems, seams, semes.

No/w/here: under rain, understanding some thing(s).

The wet can flood and drown, or cleanse and caress.

Can surround, come down, or buoy and uphold.

Understanding rain.

One water-name, countless individuals.

Unknown infinity, possibly.

Unnamed – an incalculable number of names – possibly.

The Writing One and the One Who Reads.  The One-Standing-Under-Rain and The One Rain Falls Upon.

The One Reaching the Other and The Other Receiving One.  A One Necessary Other for joinder and boundary, their rift and cleft, the possibilities.

If “to understand” counts as knowledge, he is many-known and many-named as he engages, encounters no/w/here.

[if w always presents we]

so that without w there is no-here and no now.




+/= here.  now here.  how here.  now here.

He realizes this direction is constantly unknown, even at its end.  If he can know it is raining, he cannot know how many.  And whenever it ceases, the water will be elsewhere, other-wise.

The Thinking One.  Confused Other.

He is unable to inscribe or translate even a fraction of his names in a single no/w/here…which are not singular, ever.

Names rain when he looks, listens, feels.  Attends.

Ecstatic One.  Diluted Other.  Watery One.  Solid Other.


Unknown and unnamed begins to understand, standing under (and in) no/w/here’s rain.

Muchly known, muchly named, ennui


he goes on…

standing under rain,

in the middle of,