(The First Good Novel)


In any breaks in necessity – between semesters, breaks at work, children otherwise occupied, no “required” readings or commissioned work, etc… – with each passing season, I gradually discover what matters most to me (literarily speaking, which, for me, involves much of my lived life) – perhaps I might refer to it as my meaning-making-factory-resources (Blanchot says of Borges that he is “an essentially literary man – which means that he is always ready to understand according to the manner of comprehension that literature authorizes).”  At this point in my living, over four decades along, and a large percentage of the pie devoted to reading, those voices I turn to, their messages and efforts, have become quite consistent.  Each year there are new ones, new threads and concepts, theories and expressions that very significantly impact my living – but they tend to find their place as commentaries, extensions, additives and queries to what (I suppose) now forms my central “canon” of sorts.

This struck me, following my return to Bakhtin and Blanchot, and as we prepare for vacation how I immediately reached for Soulstorms by Clarice Lispector and The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel) by Macedonio Fernandez.  In searching for this image of Fernandez:

Macedonioa host of Google’s “related images” arose – including Borges, Lispector, David Foster Wallace – and I got that vision of how pantheons develop and connect and gradually form a kind of woven semiotic pattern – a “worldview” or “Innenwelt” I guess – it begins to make sense what’s connected to what and whom to whom throughout time and space of world-being.  Beckett, Blanchot, Dostoevsky, Pessoa, Rilke, Cixous, Kafka, Bakhtin, Jabes, these visions and verbals I return to again and again and again and again – inexhaustibly – and although my copies are nearly glutted with markings and underlinings – and they feel intimate and familiar (on the one hand) – that I also feel I am always learning them anew, freshly, with EVERY read.

These things astound me.

Museum of Eterna's Novel

Of this particular book (which I often say is the very best novel I have ever read, repeatedly), Adam Thirlwell writes “It is a novel which does not want to begin.  Or, perhaps, it is really a novel which does not want to end…The aim of Macedonio Fernandez’s novels is to convert all reality into fiction (or the other way around).”  “The real subjects of this lightly playful novel are the grave ones of death and love.”

“In his novel, Fernandez tests the possibility that all philosophical questions are only meaningful in relation to human relations: that all questions of infinity are really questions about love.”

and so on.

Macedonio 2

Macedonio is, for me, a hero the likes of Bakhtin, Blanchot, Beckett – those writings and writers I will never “get over,” never “get around.”  Writings I can only ever “go through.”

Perhaps these writings are characterized by the question – “What is it to be real?”  I recently discovered in one of those “shock of recognition” moments that although I’ve studied theology, philosophy, classical music, art and literature and now information sciences and systems theories – that none of the CONTENTS of these fields sustain my passions – it is the relationships between them – the ligaments and synchronous reverberations they emit – the MEANING-making effects of their pursuit and inquiry that is REALLY what drives me toward, into and through them.  I’m not looking for truth or necessarily facts or any answers – but for PROCESSES and PRACTICES that enrich, enhance and extend my biological life in relation to the world I’m “thrown into.”

Borges wrote of Fernandez: “Macedonio is metaphysics, he is literature” and that “writing was no trouble for Macedonio Fernandez. He lived (more than any other person I have ever known) to think.  Every day he abandoned himself to the vicissitudes and surprises of thoughts as a swimmer is borne along by the current of a great river.”  The novel’s translator writes: “The method is madcap; the intent is desperately human.”

Perhaps that is what I’m after – to be “desperately human.”

and now we’re heading off to the wilds – to be desperately human with-world with-family – replete with above-mentioned authors and without wi-fi or internet services!

P.S. (also from current reading – The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg):

“Be attentive, feel nothing in vain, measure and compare:  this is the whole law of philosophy.”


“To grow wiser means to learn to know better and better the faults to which this instrument with which we feel and judge can be subject.”

All the best!




“A proposition is only a pretext to go over the limits of what’s proposed…A man in a room does not have strict boundaries until the moment when something forces him to take up one or another activity…

…I don’t have to write all this to be convinced that what is written exists.”

-Arkadii Dragomoshchenko-

“Don’t blame me.  I measure the shadow of the shadow with the shadow,

signifying here.”

-Arkadii Dragomoshchenko-

“To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees” (Paul Valery)


I hear a bewildering variety of birds – singing, cawing, chirping, saying.  It exists whether I say so or not.  Some things exist because I say so.

Like dolumbritz and community.

The steps being easy and difficult between.

They leave shadows.  Sometimes.

Metaphor avoids this.


If we got to the bottom of it all, we would fall.  Perhaps upward, if direction had anything to do with it (it doesn’t).  So we say “alas.”  Which once was short for the bottom – a-ha! “at last!” there is (here is) THIS.  But now is code for sigh.

She said so, and I heard her, at last.  I sigh.

“I have the feeling that the meaning of things will never be sorted out” is a paraphrase of a poet.  Alas.

Like philosophy: the sequence of excitable sighs, then exhaustion.


I am here (wherever that is).  I could describe it and become able to forget, having given it you.  But once described, something else, and then poetry – “always something else.”  Metaphor.  Not likeness but difference.

I am here.

I would know this insofar as it were validated – verified : affirmed.  But that would change and then unknown.  I reach out as like to open without a demonstration, only signs or their perceivers.  Senseless gestures filled with sense.  First one and then another “like meanings smashing each other (I don’t say metaphor)” (Dragomoshchenko).


A family of deer just walked in front of me, led by the elder, stopping to curiously stare (extending their field) – a simultaneity.  I gazed back and added noise to which a tail flap and head cock, followed by a smile and a welcoming.  While you notice people on the street, in the office, over lunch.  And a child hears a fairy’s call.  What is and what is not need each other to exist.

“Imagination differs from fantasy as the form ‘is’ from the form ‘if.’  The scope of my imagination is no less than the scope of desire” (Dragomoshchenko).  If he seems to make more sense or to express it is because I provide a context and steal a fragment, thus expanding what it is by what it’s not, which also is if only ‘if’ therefore as written.

“I do not have to write all this to be convinced…”

In fact an opposite’s expanding here

N Filbert, Pike’s Peak CO, 2012

Sneak Post

Hey everyone – this is basically what i’m looking at for the next 8 days (and climbing).  Happened in to town for groceries and water…and a cafe-created coffee (which happened to host wi-fi) – thanks for reading, for your comments and i’m sure your posts – i’ll get to as many of them as i can when i return next week for two days of Kansas’ hell-hot heat and then we’re off for another week until BOOM school/work/etc. starts!

I can tell you that thusfar feeling high-altitude breezes, looking at deer, marmots, chipmunks, rabbits, and an amazing variety of birds and flora – my mind is cruising into a calmly-breathing state I haven’t known in a very long time.  Hopefully much will soothe and settle and i’ll notice something interesting or beautiful to share upon my return.  For now, I’m resting, climbing, loving, and exploring these mountains 🙂

Thanks and happiness to all