Writing it out : writing in

Into (and out of) the labyrinth of language

“there can be no fully articulated thought without symbolic embodiment…

language is the very stuff of which ‘ideas’ are made…

to separate thought from its symbolic manifestation would be as futile

as to try separating a mind from its embodiment in a human organism”

-Max Black, The Labyrinth of Language

“words are part of action and they are equivalents to actions”

-Bronislaw Malinowski-

            Sometimes silenced.  Pressured in channels.  A void creates a vacuum.  Fettered speech – often necessary but variant to “open” or “expressive” on a relative continuum.  To a purpose.  Carrying a message.  Responsive.  Reducing uncertainty.  Extrinsic.  Sometimes.

As if a balance of scales.  A fluid diagram – flow chart.  Internal at the individual end, external at the communicative social.  Between are many pages, many possible sounds.

If days go by.  When days go by.  After days without a feeling of spillage, a “seems” – the experience, for this writer, of unexpurgated, unconventional intrinsic release – that is, writer’s personal experience (a complexity of interactions – organism with environment and others) there ensues a kind of illness, like constipation, like perpetrated violence or censorship, like oppression – that, unless a leakage is allowed, some systemic crack, a private valve – writer risks implosion.  (Say – depression, frustration, resentment, anger).  Holding a forest beast under the lake.

Slipping out and away, writer beast finds a crevice or hollow, cavern or plain in which, from whence, he or she can reduce uncertainty, verbalizing observations and ideas.  As if life is the laboratory that would go unmarked and unnoticed without jotting tallies on a page.

Writing it out – writing in – a labyrinth.

Taking up the ball-point pen, dragging it along the surface of clean paper, is like turning the tap.

Hiss and sputter – tubes finding matter or substance, inciting energy – then flow.


I write about heaven and hell, the monsters here to there.  Of inscribing itself, the requirements of entity and imagined self or other.  The many, the few, and the plants and the beasts.  What air.  In the woods and the desert, the mind.  The heart with its loves and its rage.  Perpetual fears and the virus of mayhem.  I write about her and the children, of friendships and evil and time.  About death, about life, about learning.  In senses, in theories, in words.

It’s not difficult, I’ve just done it.  And you have provided the meaning, already.  Each term stimulating your “abouts,” descriptions and definitions, the semantics.  I craft words your eyes and ears compose commentaries to.  Little point to my telling.

Yet some of you read differently, perhaps listening.  Maybe wonder the about.  How it comes to be, what is signified for me, and why just so?


Creates conversation.  Your doctor can doll out the pills you receive and absorb, internalizing into your existent system.  Your god may tell you what you should do.  Your boss indicates how you should do it and when, friends and family surround you to be.

Not I.  I don’t want it to work quite like that.  I am spinning no story for you to follow along, no pattern upheld to your measure.  Writing it out in the labyrinth of language, I mean for exchange, for a wander – we enter, we leave the deposits we find, discover and fashion with so many hands, so many eyes, ubiquitous ears.

Write it out writing in, in the reading together, again, wending our way trading secrets and gems, co-constructing meanings and moods all to the tunes of language.


I step out of the water and dry.

The Labyrinth of Language
by Max Black

N Filbert 2012

This has been one of those weeks…children home sick from school, an art show to hang (see here!), school studies, and all the sundries of necessity leaving very little time for nourishing reading and composition.  Needed to set aside some time beginning this day.

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

Friday Fictioneers – July 6, 2012


I labor steady, slowly, surely.  Block after block, hewn from my ruin.  This hapless task at hand.  Construct a habitation of words.  I use whatever I come by, wherever I happen to be.  With an eye for the concrete and a feeling for sky.  I’m a weedy terrain, dried up from AA and a searing of spurn.  No smoke, no rain.  I’ve been looking for signs or instructions:  there are none.  Or far too many.  So I set out simply to make.  A noun, a verb, an adjective; pasting with participles and pronouns.  Tedious, thankless, alone.  I build, it crumbles.  It cracks, I evolve.  Not much of a shelter, but it holds.  And remains, opening up to the night.

Thanks for Madison Woods et.al. and the continuous production of prompts for this weekly challenge and exercise: Friday Fictioneers

The “Right” Word

            What are we waiting for?  And why?  It’ll never get any easier, and this is remedial.

I had thought we were awaiting the word.  The right one.  Any one, but right all the same.

I had thought that.  But I didn’t know why.

Since any old word would do.  Being all we had.

Still we waited, not quite believing.

How many words do you suppose there are? we wondered.  Given multiple spellings and various languages all – how many?  And their requisite alphabetical sourcings.  I reckon we could figure it out in an equation, don’t you?  Only so many letters rearranged so many ways with up to twenty-six (or however many) letters equals = ?  For every tongue?  There are limited options.  It’s certainly not infinite, this isn’t rocket science here, or religion, so to speak.

Still, we waited.  Because, well, because we didn’t know.  Know which of the any was “right.”  By which we meant, well, by which we meant “worked” for whatever it was we desired.  Which, again, we did not know.  Leastwise I certainly did not.

I had a feeling for how it might, or that I’d like it to, feel, but wouldn’t be able to tell you how that was until I found the right words, any words, but, you know, the right one(s).  I could kind of hear the sound, how it would wrinkle into the ear and swoosh down their canals, troubling the waters.  Or what textures the air would take as it blew up out of the lungs trembling the throat and over the tapping tongue.  Some idea or sense of it, but nothing particular, not knowing the word, only the anticipation and desire.

That’s what waiting is, after all.  A hunch without a reason or cause or an outcome.  Guesswork with some directed hope.  A running of options, but unable to identify.

So we waited, not knowing what we were waiting for or on, exactly, but also because we didn’t know.

And waited.

I could imagine its shape, the work of the muscles, the grip and the tracing of lines, but I couldn’t know how to begin, not knowing what or which curve happened first.  And was it dotted or crossed or simply angles and loops?  I had no way of telling, without the word, the one I’d keep waiting for, any word, the right one.

So I kept still.  Well, actually we paced.  Walked to and fro and back and forth, ahead and around, and sometimes sat down, sort of listening I guess, looking and listening for an outline or scrawl, whisper or code, some rhythm or sound that might bring on the term, any word, but not the ones we were using, no, the next one, the “just” or “proper” or appropriate word to our intake, our output, a resonance you know, what we were waiting on.  The “correct” as it were, word, sound shape texture intonation field of references emotive trail and so forth…that one.

The discreet utterance or image that would hear us out, carry us on, would solve us.

I’m waiting.

Writing: the Blocks

Writing: the Blocks

“and everything here like an incomprehensible explanation”

-Arkadii Dragomoshchenko-


There are those times of overwhelm.  Edit?  Create?  Organize?  Submit?  Wander about (for “inspiration”)? or sit and stare (“meditation”)?

There are those times.  So much written, nothing sold.  Years of working, thinking, learning, feeling…orphaned.  Turned away.  Left out.  Sent back.


Here’s the open field and some more ever-uncertain time.  Feels fragile.  I feel I should be making, arranging words toward unknown meanings or inferences, but I’m also drowning in them – so many of my own, millions of others as well.  Approved words, theirs, successful words, words now “bound,” where mine (I try the positive) are “free,” “independent,” “loose”… not owned by any other hands or minds.

But the words seem to want it.  They emit their own desires.  For partners, for dances, for strolls.  Attachment.  They even like to work!  Anything at all – they just want to be, active.

Mine aren’t.  They jimmied their way around my emotions and spleen; infested every nook, cranny and fold of my brain; strained my throat and cramped my hand…but once I’d rid myself of them – sealed them between the bars of blue lines, they began to wither and starve.  Atrophy.  My words – these voiceless victims.

They’ve got plenty of company all lined up and folded together – hell, they’re stacked on top of each other…but they need human parts for life.  Need eyes and mouths, lungs and ears, hands and minds, perceptors, receivers and nerves.  I look down on them all like leaves from last winter, or hidden away in mausoleum-like drawers.  I feel sorrow.

There are zillions of others – exactly the same as mine but for their order – speeding all over the world – through wires and lights – through voices, canals – held gently in hands – slick and shiny on mags – proclaimed on billboards and signs.  But not mine.  Not these innumerable identical versions but for my script, my experience, my faulty manipulation.

What gives?

What gives at these moments, these gulag-ish terms of withholding and stasis?

A letter or email perhaps.  A talk with my wife or my sons or my daughter.  A glance at a spine or a page.  Some music with lyrics.  A friend.  They are moving, alert.  Every-ready for use.  In use.  Wording their function.  My continued submissions might be jail-breaks for them.  My blogs and my posts and my readings.  The phone calls.  We could try it?  See how they still work?

Or even something like this.  This query of what do they want?  Working them into myself.  Materializing them.

I don’t know.  I don’t know if it helps.  I can’t tell at this moment.  They seem stuck.  And yet not.  Here they are, ever coming, ever becoming, nothing.

Like us.  Maybe I’m stuck.  Becoming nothing (inevitably) but becoming nonetheless, all the while.

I guess I’m suggesting that there’s really no such thing as stasis or block in living beings.  Regardless what or who or how, we’re becoming (the 5 Ws all taken care of).  Now & Here all five essential questions are active whether I write down answers or not.  As long as we breathe.  Work is going on.

And words, so eagerly activated.

N Filbert 2012

Inscribing a Now

Inscribing a Now


Today I just feel like writing.  I don’t have anything in particular to say, no specific emotion I am needing to express (that I know; or am aware of), simply a kind of quiet delight in our capacity to make language.  To fit words together, to knit our lives, to be.

Enormously unusual (I cannot stress that enough!) it is around 50 degrees and solidly overcast in Kansas this June 1st.  Not humid even, but sprinkling now and again, the kind of precipitation you could enter and be refreshed, but a long time in getting wet.  As if the sky is asking us to take it easy, to relax, be reprieved, just enjoy.

My children are reading and practicing stringed instruments; my wife is making sounds that are delicious as she struggles with a painting; my room is dark.  These are moments of peace, are unexpected, a relief, a protection, a comforted grief.

Language is a beautiful necessity, unnecessarily.  Like bodies and voices, flowers and food.  Like mountains.  Oh, necessity can be argued for each, but what’s the point?  The world is, and that’s enough, that’s what’s important.  It seems.  And what a hinge-word!  It means we’ll never know, and that’s not the point.  Is must be different from certainty.

Perhaps I’m engaging a kingdom of “trust”?

An as-if-ness that isn’t afraid?

How little I know.


So the ambling to no purpose again.  “Angling” is how I heard it in my mind.  Seems it must be so.  To language in leisure must be near to the impulse of finding to-do for a bored adolescent.  Dropping a line.  Seeing what bites.  Or even just nibbles.

Sprinkling rain.  Haphazard, unpatternable, occasions.  Delight.

No expectation, desire (that’s pressing).  Just a wandering way.

It evokes a wishing-well torso for me.  So many words in the world used in anxiety, in need.  So much language and gesture, expression and sign, mobilized to “get” or “secure;” “ensure” or “relieve.”

Not that, not right now, not need.  Just rest, an in-pleasuring, a reprieve.  Just an hello or a thanks.  A “notice that?” or an “indeed.”  An agreement of person and term, an almost “natural” weave.

Sounds and sense, tones and rhythms, raindrops tickling shingles and birds.  Tires whispering snare-drum waters, puddles triangle-tinkling away.

Hello.  These are words.  It feels good to shape them – a cursive-recursive flow.  To be real (enough), here (enough), to know (enough) to inscribe.  What a pleasure, a leisure, a joy.

Thank you, world, for that hour.


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We wanted love.  This sentence has no meaning outside a sentence.  We wanted a multitude of words.  Love was to become the quarrying of ourselves, emerging from a completely different side of the narrative…Representing ourselves to ourselves was an unmanageable task from the beginning.  To continue being a reality while simultaneously becoming its sign that dissembles nothing, only relentlessly elevates itself in a continuous shadow –

-Arkadii Dragomoshchenko-


There was no doubt we wanted.  What it was that we wanted, exactly, was another matter.  We wanted love?  Perhaps.  Love made from words and signs and gestures.  From the beginning we had trouble representing ourselves.  Being a reality while also signifying it and being its addressee – inveigled us in a continuous loop.  We needed another view.  From a completely different side of the narrative.

Maybe we wanted to drink reality to its dregs.  We wanted love.  Someone who could read the being and its signs and comprehend its address.  Someone to help interpret the loop, quarry the signs, chart and map the shadowy spiral.  We wanted a multitude of words.  Words we’d never thought of.  Never heard before.  Synonyms and antonyms to set apart our signs, that we might, perchance, see who we are.  Learn, not just be.  We wanted love.

Loving ourselves was clinging to continuous shadow.  Ourselves always just ahead of us, being, quarrying experience, fabricating new signs, dissembling nothing.  We didn’t know, anything.  We wanted love and a multitude of words, of gestures – significations of action and matter – we wanted to be real.

Your side was completely different.  There you were – being, assembling signs, dissembling words I thought I knew into paradoxical meanings.  I’d see a sign that seemed familiar but the language was foreign, the reference obscure, of exotic materials.  Where were you quarrying?  I was stunned and fascinated – we could make such similar things of our surround and within – yet pointing in apparently opposite directions!  How could this be?

We wanted love.  I followed your signs, tried to tell you what they meant.  We wanted for multitudes of words.  You sought to explain, what with the being, the source, the signs and address,  indicating your shadow, not mine.  I, forever chasing the shade of your dress.

We wanted for love and showed each other signs.  We gestured and addressed our bodies and songs, put on shows of ourselves for each other.  Here are my banners and pennants.  Here my consistent mottoes.  Here the images we keep – representations of ourselves like lost memories.  Here our directions and contents, graphics and readings.  Signs, signs, and a multitude of words.

We began telling one another their stories as we read.  Replete with new words, new signs and misreadings.  This did not often go well.  With each sign that we made we were reading the last.  We couldn’t keep up, swimming in continuous shadow.

A multitude of loving and words.  We believed we wanted reality.  We decided to quarry together – our insides working into a shared surround.  We disagreed on its representation and agreed to post personal options.  We grew confused and crowded with signs and gestures.  Grabbing some of these, we started swinging, thinking ours might outlast the others, might prove “right,” win out, or be “true.”

Our signs began to shatter as our words and gestures dissembled.  We established picket lines and separate camps.  We fashioned more signs with blazoned slogans of ourselves and our views, losing them inside our shadows.  We decided to climb.  Perhaps a view from afar, or you’ll be off on expedition.  We located a guide.  Who seemed to think all of our signs were true.  We looked again and could read that we wanted for love.  Our valley was riddled with signs.  Our guide interpreted gestures the same.  Words of pain, words of fear, a multitude of words.  All quite similar but in our own languages.

We wanted love, he said.

Someone to read our beings, our signs and receive their address.  Someone to help interpret our loops, quarry new signs, and map our spiraling stories.  We wanted multitudes of words and we had them.  Words we’d never thought of nor read.  Words replete with variant meanings and references.  Synonyms, antonyms distinguishing our signs, redirecting our shadows.  If we listened and looked, and with care, he said, perchance we might see who we are, being.  And learn how to be.  If we wanted for love, we had it, he said.  Just look at the signs.

Ache ( the words, pt. 1)

I think it significant that this post and these thoughts were constructed/composed to Max Richter‘s composition “The Haunted Ocean 4” from his Waltz With Bashir soundtrack.  I have been unable to figure out how to load that piece here but so wanted you to be able to listen while you read.  I have found “Haunted Ocean 1” which has similar themes, but if you are able to listen to #4 please do!

(our environment writes as much as we do)



Borges writes “immanence,” Blanchot “infinite” and “void;” Beckett’s “dim” is Jabes’ “absence.”

– Let the attributes ring in your bodies like hymn –

Someone’s “silencio” is another one’s “vague.”  Heidegger’s “Dasein,” a collective of “Tao’s.”

Whence this pull toward placed-ness, toward wholes, toward meaning?

What evidence have we that this could ever be the case?

From “birth”?  Or “death”?  And what might we mean by “life”?



“words are not the reality of language: words – by themselves – do not exist”

Jorge Luis Borges

He illustrates this simply.  And might be demonstrated even more concisely, like this:

God.  DieuיהוהAllah.  and so on…

Or, with Borges:

“En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero recorder” (12 words)

“In a place in La Mancha, whose name I do not wish to recall”  (14 words)

“En un pueblo manchego cuyo nombre no quiero recorder”  (9 words)

“In a Manchegan village whose name I don’t want to recall”  (11 words)


I love you.  Te amo.  J’taime.  Я тебя люблю etc…


I adore, crave, honor, respect, delight, select, prefer…

            It isn’t the words, it’s the language.  And the language isn’t just words.


Torment lies here.  Angst, frustration, agitation, anger and want.  Fear and inadequacy, limitation and failure, desire and doom.


If the words not the thing nor the thing without sign or presentation…for what, for what do we yearn?


We seem unable to be HERE, PRESENT, and simultaneously FULLY SO.  Some faculty, some capacity slighted.  Either intellect suffers to passion, or understanding commands immersive sensation.  Ever a split, a just-nigh or just-shy.


To long for, to crave covet and burn…


My love is absent.  I ache, I yearn.  But when she returns and is present, I lose the pregnant and consumptive fullness of her absence.

Either way I ache, for more, for all – for comprehensive life.

            Called by “I,” “void” or “it.”  “Being,” “nirvana” or “love.”  “Youth” or “joy” or “wholeness.”  “Pleasure” “emptiness” or “thou.”  Nothing.  or All.

I name it Ache, today, intending by it some constitutive condition or state, a description of “living,”

by which so many meanings are lost,

and I ache.