Haunted Man: I am: the possession

“quiet field without possession”

Laurie Sheck, Captivity


I am an ocean of signs.  Of a womby surround – undulate, viscous, discombobulate, obscure.  Tremulous quarks of murky markings and inference, connotative particles, confused, ill-defined, and indifferent.  Instigative convolutions, a potentia of concatenation and combine, cations and anions, dispersive attract.

Filled with words.  Prescriptive, disruptive, chaotic, coherent.  A turbulence transposing subjects, predicatively morphing, an aqueous slurrage of verb, vim and weave.  Compositive, foreign, constitutive terms.  Not-I.  Of Other.  As shapes and colors, sounds, concepts, any all perceived – no idgit of me, all permeable outside – Otherness, environ, cocoon – borrowed, received (or rejected?), an elusive collude.

Signifiers swarm me.  Inherited meanings, genetic loom of semiotic loops and swirls.  Who begins?  No ex nihilo.  All arrange, revise, adapt.  We’re composed.  I of an ocean of signs.  Language and impulses, instincts and codes.  Ellipses and notions imposed.  Undifferentiate, senseless, stirred by experience – a cacophonous chorus of bones to my suture.

Oral, aural, textured and gestured, I swim and I sink, flux in the float.  Fragments and fractures, compounds and bonds, links and erasures.  Malformations.  Dis-ease.  Some viral, some blocked, unusable and ill-conceived, undone, or aborted.  Indisposition. Swim on, slurry substance, amalgam of shreds, resist and desist, copy and swallow.  I choke.  I chortle.  What makes “mine”?  Just a word, (yet another), from whence and from where we don’t know, but not “us” (neither that, nor this keystroke, this breathy design, dasein, without ownmost).  Even a name is built upon countless.  Other.

Epi-, meta-, arche-, unknown and unknowing, interpreted through mediated mattery fracas, encompassing commotion, tempestuous din, innately ordained.  But not-I, freak iota, insignificant smallest, author of none.  No one.  No thing.  No not-I.

Quavery, wavering, components of signs, my birth-sea and umwelt, disjoiner and fabricate mush.

This become, in this swelter, this wrap and unravel.  Efface and inveigle a ubiquitous unique.  I am drowning, a seaway of signs.

Infinite Medium / Unlimited Meaning

“And the fact is that ordinary words don’t have just two or three but an unlimited number of meanings, which is quite a scary thought; however, the more positive side of this thought is that each concept has a limitless potential for variety.  This is a rather pleasing thought, at least for people who are curious and who are stimulated by novelty.”

– Douglas Hofstadter & Emmanuel Sander –



Astounding – I’m in my fourth decade of life and this is the first day the beauty of this word has hit home…


which put me in mind of Rodin

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and of the cacophony of arguments followed by caressing clarifications toward shared understandings

of characters presented and nuanced, developed, made complex

of statements expanded and explained, extended into metaphors

vowels echoing sustained

hard Cs molding into soft

crashes dwindling into static

facts becoming rumors becoming murmurs,  whispers,  sighs

wailing come to  weeping come to tears come to rest

Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it.

Homo Fictus

“words are not a translation of something else that was there before they were”

-Ludwig Wittgenstein-

Homo Fictus

 “Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories”

-Jonathan Gottschall-

            Knowing how / knowing why.  Procedures and structures.  Diversify and unify.  Complexity-to-simplicity turned complex all over again.  Reuse and construction.  Stories.

We are saturate with story.  Each word of that sentence.  If I provide the skeleton – you’re sure to flesh it out.   The productivity of words, the how & why of humans.

Perhaps I’ll call it “making sense,” but the sense is there before, what follows is a meaning – through procedures and structures, reuse and construction, the wired and the firing, implicity spinning explicitly – and for reasons not yet fully known, I’ve gotta have mine.

“The knowledge of good and evil, all in one.  Both. 

Somebody finally said, I know my own mind.”

-Janet Kauffman-

            Experience is a complex collision I diversify and unite.  Following patterns infused by my own.  If you provide a list of observations and complaints, I may spend entire days reorganizing them – they didn’t quite “fit.”  Perhaps I’ll throw them back.  I’d like to be certain.

“the absence of doubt is of the essence of a language-game”

-Ludwig Wittgenstein-

            A personalized language-game full of cues, thesauri and symbols – my controlled vocabulary meshing your data…

“The alphabet of my DNA shapes certain words, but the story is not told.

I have to tell it myself.

What is it I have to tell myself again and again?

That there is always a new beginning, a different end.

I can change the story.  I am the story.


-Jeanette Winterson-

            …ah, now I’ve figured it out (made it fit  my form) – this is my story now, please listen and confirm (complexity-simplicity) – oh no?  you don’t? (complexity again) and back to the storyboards or diary…

The yearn is toward some balance, stasis, surety.  Re-cognizable re-currency.  Re-presentation.  Re-anything.  Want familiar.  The excitement may very well come with the disruptions, eruptions, defamiliarization, the constant change – it certainly heightens our senses and intension – the thrill is in the thunderous gathering of troops – flickering flashing neurons – dogs set on the intrusion…but soon we stabilize the perimeter again…incorporate the drama…

“the important thing is to consider the significance of things and not to worry about their authenticity…it’s difficult to tell at the end of the day whether it was theory or need that got you through it.”

-Joy Williams-

            …with our stories (and lies)…our illusory perceptions…needing organized to our organism…and tales are conjured, fiction begins, typing on our limited keys…

…even while the body’s at rest…

“in short, nothing so central to the human condition is so incompletely understood”

-Jonathan Gottschall-

this post inspired in part by

Conclusion to the Gift that Explodes : Final Page


and the typeset:


Taking Root, Using Your Woods

For this is how we come to woods – they come to us.  Ancient are the lineages and deep the roots of almost every wood we encounter.  Your woods, my child, though freely belonging to anyone, are also and quite absolutely, your own.  You see, we come to learn our woods through time and play, experiment and work.  Those woods you train yourself with, that you fondle and prune and water and grow – those woods will change right along with you.  With time and your own adjustments, growth and adaptations to all within and around you – these woods will shape those changes in you and you will select, alter and use each of your woods in your very own specific and particularized manner…in every moment, experience, and time.

It may not be long before one of us departs with The Leavings, and with such a season you may seek out woodless spaces for a while.  There is nothing wrong with leaving woods behind for a time.  You will invariably find yourself among thickets of woods you do not recognize, are unfamiliar, or being used in ways you had not imagined.  Remember, my dear one – this world is large and uncontained – we cannot master it – it is crowded and flush with persons and woods.  Incessantly they are changing, every moment – the woods and their peoples, and the peoples’ selection and uses of woods.  Many will offer you groves unwanted, wealds of woods you do not know, clumsy lumber for your yearning purpose.

Remember to breathe and look far, my dear, take your time and search their roots.  Nearly any wood can be partially known from its seed taking root and its clamorous growth.  Woods are formed of winds and waters, weathers and disparate soils – they are bound to have unique characteristics and histories, varieties and sources – learning these will help you find your way among them.  While hardly a simple task – its effort carries its own worth.

Then you may come to feel comfort in whatever woods construct the bosk where you are – they can speak to you, and you with them – becoming another precious person of the wood.

You have so much to offer us, as the forests of woods do you – all the many woodlands spread throughout our homelands, neighborhoods, countrysides and world – many, yes, loved child, many woodlands yet to be invented, discovered or known – and you, sweet forested one, growing now among them, taking roots, assembling branches and leaf piles and canopies, or ships with broad docks and high towers, realms and copses, barrels and fires and beds – as you learn to love and use your woods, multiply and form them – oh what wonders await us all!

Take your roots, then, gather seeds, use your woods – let them grow and shape you – plant, sprout and remake them!  All woods you engage are yours while you are in them!  So live, darling wonder, live and learn and create!  Staying open to woods – testing and investing and proclaiming them!  Even logging them for records or constructions, be certain to renew, and create!

and the final product of the little gifted notebook from my lovely daughter, sussing me through these holidays

Notebook - Ida

Using Our Woods – the Gift that Explodes 6

Notebook 6

and the typeset version:


Whose Woods are These I Think I Know

At any given moment, these are the only woods we have.  We do what we can with them, my dear, always many and diverse.  Yet just a tiny little forest in the vastness.  Some of our woods are soft and mulchy while some are brittle and sharp.  There’ll be splinters and cracks, switches and boughs.  But used together, in ways appropriate to their kind, they’ll be useful.  Like don’t use kindling-wood so support the house.  I know you often think, being small, that you don’t always have the woods you need.  That others more skilled at building, the polishers and craftspersons, or the armory whittlers have advantages and types of wood beyond your resources.  I’ve heard you cry that your stand of woods is lacking meat or certain fruits, you haven’t the wealth of many rings and nuanced etchings.  That when you rope the trunks, the roots are shallow and fail the weight you beg them carry.

Rearrange, my dear, and be patient.  Keep trying the woods that you have.  I’ve seen a woodsman create with 100 what many cannot in a jungle.  We must seek and study our world, evince all its ins and its outs.  Which of our woods will comfort, which we can hone for attacks.  What parts need handled carefully and preserved, that they might grow fuller and larger with age, ‘til they form a bridge toward where you need to go.

It is greatly advisable to journey and trade.  Take with you fresh seeds and young branches.  Try never to sever your roots, but graft and train, splice and mend, understand what will fertilize.

Your woods are an active place and a venture, requiring tenacious tending.  Climb, my child, but test your footing, not every sapling will hold.  You can succeed and will, should you choose to partake with the People of Woods.  It only takes time and practice – adapting and adaptation – the bud and the tendril, the log and the trunk.  Recite and remind and then jumble.

Above all, my daughter, please play.  Pick-up sticks, wooden boats and chutes and ladders.  Kites and slingshots, barrels and monkeys, apples to apples.  Now is the time to throw peaches and chew the walnuts’ rind, bowl crabapples, smoke the reed and sniff the pine.  Some whips will leave seams you’ll never forget, some falls may even break a limb, but you will grow and know, know and grow, until you, like the tree, flourish and bloom, strip and stand bare, proud and enduring, withstanding both wind and the wave, strikes and blows, the cold and the dark, all from your stock of woods and what’s possible.

Whoever dreamt a log could roll on rivers, or bend into a wheel?  Who knew they’d form enormous arks – large enough to save our world?  The handing of a tiny reed embossed with cursive love, sharpened to a blade, signs set to warn of danger, posts to fort a home.  My love, impossible does not apply with your woods – all that we know is unknown where the woods come into play.

Experiment, invent, babble the brook or construct a staying dam.  Use our woods, love and care for them, ignite your passion, rub them together toward sparks, thatch, nest, spear.  The woods are waiting – and these are yours.

click here for all 6 pages – The Notebook

Continuation of the Gift that Explodes: In Which is Entered the Rich Thicket of Woods

Here is page two of the blank notebook from my daughter as it fills:


and here it’s typeset form:


In Which is Entered the Rich Thicket of Woods


In the beginning was the wood.  It took us much time to discover its uses.  We ate its tough skin for roughage, we mashed its soft heart into pulp.  We chopped it to bits, we rearranged them.  We played games with it.  Sometimes it was all that kept us afloat.  Sometimes we structured them carefully and turned to them for shelter.  As we learned what woods could do, we began to comprehend their value.  At times we relied on them for everything necessary to survive – the fruit of a tree gave us sweet liquid and meaty flesh.  The fragility of the dead still warmed us as it disintegrated in the flames.  They grew to be almost sacred – the world as we knew it came to rely on them.  We crafted them into signs and created many sounds from them – enabling us to communicate over vast spaces.  We were capable of traveling quite far, able to reach one another over distances before considered impassable.  Woods made this possible my dear!  Some days I might spend hours simply admiring them – looking them over – taking them in.  Each with its own fine shape, and own specific range of uses.  Some were embellishments, some anchored the whole forest together, some provided seamless access or served as bridges to crawl carefully across great dangers.  We constructed some for fences and walls – they helped us keep the unwanted out.  Others we piled up like babble in the sheer joy of conflagration and release – it seemed they could life our heavy spirits like colorful smoke.  Oh the woods, my darling, the woods!  It is they that really enabled us to become what we are today.  To reveal our capacities, our feelings and thoughts, intentions and dreams.  In woods we could concoct our plans and rest in their leafy comfort.  There are times when all one needs is woods.  Things can seem overwhelming, catastrophic or of unmentionable sorrow or fright, and yet finding the right type of wood, or clinging to a wood that is kind and safe and strong can sometimes leverage us through great storms.  My precious dear, learn as many woods as you can – make peace with them – seek out their countless paths that you might always have a place to go, a world to be.


Masterful Hejinian on Language

“Language discovers what one might know, which in turn is always less than what language might say.  

We encounter some limitations of this relationship early, as children.  Anything with limits can be imagined (correctly or incorrectly) as an object, by analogy with other objects – balls and rivers.  Children objectify language when they render it their plaything, in jokes, puns, and riddles, or in glossolaliac chants and rhymes.  

They discover the words are not equal to the world, that a blur of displacement, a type of parallax, exists in the relation between things (events, ideas, objects) and the words for them – a displacement producing a gap.

Because we have language we find ourselves in a special and peculiar relationship to the objects, events, and situations which constitute what we imagine of the world.

Language generates its own characteristics in the human psychological and spiritual conditions.

Indeed, it nearly is our psychological condition.

This psychology is generated by the struggle between language and that which it claims to depict or express, by our overwhelming experience of the vastness and uncertainty of the world, and by what often seems to be the inadequacy of the imagination that longs to know it – 

Language is one of the principal forms our curiosity takes.

It makes us restless.

As Francis Ponge puts it, ‘Man is a curious body whose center of gravity is not in himself.’

Instead that center of gravity seems to be located in language, by virtue of which we negotiate our mentalities and the world; off-balance, heavy at the mouth, we are pulled forward.

Language itself is never in a state of rest.

Its syntax can be as complex as thought.  And the experience of using it, which includes the experience of understanding it, either as speech or as writing, is inevitably active – both intellectually and emotionally.

The ‘rage to know’ is one expression of the restlessness engendered by language.  ‘As long as man keeps hearing words / He’s sure that there’s a meaning somewhere,’ as Mephistopheles points out in Goethe’s Faust…”

Lyn HejinianThe Language of Inquiry

In love with language

Ah, “the perpetually changing, muddied, maid-of-all-work, our common language…a public instrument, a collection of traditional and irrational terms and rules, fantastically created and transformed, fantastically codified, heard and uttered in many different ways”

-Paul Valery-

Summarization often feels inherently erroneous.  Much as I have an insatiable passion for “figuring things out,” for the observable “hows” and “whats” of scientific inquiries and theory, much as it evokes a delight of fascination and sense of knowledge or understanding to learn of the makeup and behaviors of neurons or cells, cerebellums or furry beasts, none of it ever feels comprehensive or resolving.  The human, to me, is some paradoxical wonder of natural capacities and probabilities and dynamics and flexibility that can endlessly occupy and consume us.  Like any part of the cosmic system, from quarks (or smaller?) to global social and environmental systems.  Language has long served as a place of experiment and observation for me of just such probability- and convention-governed behavior coupled with a kind of infinite openness and flexibility.  I believe this is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to working in words as a medium.  But listening to other artists it is easy to see that oils, wax, clay, plastic, etc. also have these inherent qualities.  Dance.  Music.  Craft.  Parenting.  Romantic loves.  Friendships.  Relations.  Essentially, relations.

A primary personal pleasure for me is delving into theories.  Semiotics, linguistics, neurobiology, aesthetics, philosophy, information systems, communications, psychology and the like – all provide  me rich excitement and spell-bound, breathless appetites and anticipations.  The process of learning and becoming – interacting with world, others, ideas, stuff – it is what makes me tick in realms of gladness.  This past week I’ve burrowed down into the work of Max Black and related source documents, particularly Wittgenstein.  I wanted to share some of Black’s “summarizations” because they retain the mess and complexity of what he is observing in a way that feels authentic.  For those of you who share the interests…the following derive from Max Black’s The Labyrinth of Language.

“The extraordinarily ramified network of skills, habits, actions, conventions, understandings, which we bundle together under the label of ‘language’ is too complex to admit of any simple summary…”

“For all its fixity of structure at any given time, a living language has an inherent plasticity and capacity for growth and adaptation (it is more like a developing organism than an inflexible machine).”

so instead of definition, Black offers what he calls a “landing stage” for directing our attention to certain features of language…including the following:

Language is rooted in speech

Language is directed, reversible and self-regulating

Language is an institution (always part of a speech-community, a participatory action)

Language is a particulate system (“a finite repertoire of elements and arrangements generating infinite diversity and novelty”)

Language is meaningful (expressive and evocative)

Language is plastic (of the most rigid and most malleable of human institutions)

so I offer these reflections today as a celebration of the magnificent medium we all of us are using to some extent throughout all of our lives and activities – ah language – ah “open systems” – ah humans – ah world!