Thinking with “more than”…

some more possible insight into the processes of “forming…” Through somewhere somehow recently I was alerted to the works of Eugene Gendlin – probably through the work of Mark Johnson, Andy Clark, or Don Tucker…but could be elsewise.  Embedded experience, embodied minds, enminded bodies – the whole mess of entanglement our simply being consists of.

and how that might apply to “writer’s block” or that reaching we experience when creating –

that feeling that we can feel it – know more than we’re able to articulate or organize or perform…

This article helps elucidate some of that, perhaps.  It has certainly stimulated my imagination and attention in attempting to write more than I seem to know how to….

Eugene Gendlin – Primacy of Body not Perception

“All thinking involves the bodily … to some degree.  Take for example any ordinary sentence.  In the middle of it you have an unfinished sense of how … You don’t know the end, and yet, all through it, as the sentence wends its way … “

Eugene T. Gendlin




Spinning in a bit of ineffectual conundrum…what reaches the paper expands…

Does remarking constitute remarkable?

Do I discover value only when change causes difference?

Is recognition of closeness a result of disjunction?

What engineers a ‘train of thought’ – who lays the track?

Which is more creative – reading or writing?

When are thoughts and feelings the same?

Is language a metaphor?

Who asked you?

Does the talking stop at conversation’s end?

What does skin separate?

When does beginning begin?

Why is death?

What is meant by ‘same’?

Is there anything as dangerous as freedom?  Anything as certain as risk?

What  are the ingredients of making?

How do we identify?

Do emotions signify?  If so, what?  If not, why?


What is gained by loss?

Are these questions rhetorical?  Essential?  Trivial?  For whom?

Who answers how and what kind of who does that make?


Please feel free to respond to any or all of the above – wisdom/insight/hypotheses are warmly welcomed!


Like margins, thresholds, beginnings.

Species of relation.

I am drawn to synthesizing agents, it seems.  I find myself attuned to, and triggered by, generalizations, and yet curiously constantly in search of them.

Fitting things where they converge, borders of meetings and passings.


Oscillation is one such theory.  Neurologically cognizable perceptively, passaging to and from hemispheres and lobes, neurons and systems, and productive.  From which we get “fire together – wire (conspire) together.”  Symphonic circuitry.  Fluctuate congruity.  A jazz band improvising.

Extended to bodies in spaces and times, collective moods, or space and time themselves, if you will.  Constructive theory of observation.  Oscillation.

As if a structural template for an expression of personal creative process.

As if an introduction toward a story, that story that’s been brewing, surging, throbbing and stewing throughout my physiological corpus for days, since an opening of light, of breath – a semester’s impending conclusion – aptly (I hope) nominated “break.”

If “break” belongs with “dance” and poetic feet fall into step, or sentences seek their stride.  She hopes so, as does he, now ungendered in a unison of copulatory oscillation, my hope for the tremoring bits that vibrate me toward a Nathan : writing.

…to be continued…

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.

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.



Jim is unable to utter a lie.  He simply cannot believe them.


Jim, sitting with friends around a hotel pool, once said: “I think every word says something about its author.”

After overhearing a tasteless joke, Jim no longer spoke with Darrell.


Jim disbelieved everyone.  His boss and his pastor, his spouse and his children; in fact, he found it impossible to trust humans (including himself) to know what they were talking about.  And yet he believed what they actually said.  The words they used.

Every statement or exclamation, every question, harrumph or faux-pas, he deciphered.  Jim doubted each “slip of the tongue.”  He said he believed in our languages.


Jim’s work was in “managing waste,” a lie that he knew they believed.  He spent most of his time in the noisy outdoors.  Chaotic, due to the mind-grinding sounds of the vehicular beasts they crept the city streets in, feeding them trashy fuel and guarding their grueling mastication.  Loud and smelly as well.  Rotten food, molded carpets, all manner of grotesque and disfigured things.  Jim saw what was hidden, discarded.  What most of us keep covered up.


His coworkers primarily proffered profanity.  He believed them.  But branching to politics or domestic intricacies, Jim only trusted their language.  It didn’t really matter what content spilled forth (he would say), the words that they chose and the ways they were delivered provided the confessions they “meant.”  “I’m afraid my wife no longer loves me” often intended its opposite, for instance, and nearly always equaled “I’m unhappy.”  Words worked like that, held Jim, worked all around one another.  “Assume the people are lying and the words will speak for themselves.”

Jim’s wife called this the “double bind,” or his “contra-contra-diction.”  And “paranoia” in worser moods.  “If you don’t believe in people,” she’d say, “and always think they lie, particularly to themselves…then say you believe their ‘language,’ but never what they actually say – really Jim – what have you?!”  “You’ve got nothing!” she’d complain, “no substance, no content, no motive – just a jumble of words that you (one of them!) reassemble…what else can that be but the rattling workings of your garbage-compactor of a mind, Jim?”  And Jim heard: “I don’t like the way you think.  It’s not practicable.  It’s egomaniacal and unfair.”  How Jim reads an utterance, with faith in the language, between all the lines, “it’s relation,” he’d say.


“I can’t speak for somebody else, dear,” Jim replied, “I just translate what I hear, or apprehend.”  “You say tomahtuh, I say tomaytoe, sort of a thing.  That’s paying attention.”  How words wrestle around and decompose, what parts go first, or crumble, get smashed.  What words stick out, slide easy, remain.  “And watch out for the oily and slime,” Jim would say, “that’s the trickiest danger to ‘manage.’”


“You’re not dealing with garbage here,” his boss declared, “I’m giving you straightforward instructions.  There’s nothing to sift through or weed out, Jim.  I need you to perform this task,” and on he would speak, accustomed to Jim’s sorting appraisal of words.

For Jim it was all the same.


Words were some overused and available aggregate, he thought.  People picked them out according to habits and taste, “nature and nurture,” he’d cliché, and then bandy them about until they felt understood, or relieved, or just plain empty.  But the resemblance was rarely precise.  Jim believed that most people simply grabbed at terms and sounds, gestures and winces without much a thought for precision.  “Think what all could be covered in silence,” he’d say, holding a field guide to transportational signage, or fingering the moves of sign language.

Most people just want to make contact, he’d hold forth, to be heard or effect something – a playing of power, a quest to convey – but not given much thought or concern.  “I basically rummage through all their crap,” Jim continued, “with an eye out for volatile substances, wounded heirlooms or inadvertent mistakes they rid themselves of, and put a pretty clear picture together.  Of their values and style, relations and status, family, religion and work.”

Joan (Jim’s wife) often speaks of what she deems Jim’s “arrogance.”  “How can he suppose to know,” she’d decry, “a person’s life story or intentions, education or political beliefs from a talk about weather or baseball or drinks?”  “It’s hypocritically bigoted, as if truth were the eye of beholding, each person’s puzzle to piece.  Unaware of themselves, Jim presents some ‘true meaning’ – its Gnostic, religious, a myth,” she’d complain.

Yet Jim was resoundingly insightful and most often correct, which simply buggered them more.  It seemed people really were giving something away when they opened their mouths, no matter what language they used.

“Words are functions,” Jim stated, “where text and image collide in a complex silence or sound.”  “Nothing escapes, really, just gets alternatively pressured and squeezed, mangled and reformed, mashed into a mushed conversation.”  “Every talker a monologue, every listener too, for the most part,” he said,  “a dialogue running oneself, a wrecked chorus, I listen for pauses and patterns, I try to decipher the breathing of noise.”

“These are just Jim’s thoughts,” snarled Joan, “things he puts into words like nonsense.”


(to be continued?  you decide…)

“You Must Revise Your Life”, and, Kudos to You Excellent and Hard-Working Bloggers All

I’ve been sort of swirling in a kind of malconfident funk of late…performing exercises and blatherings just to keep the language flowing…today felt like a threshold…one of those – “if the flow don’t show – i’m constipated” sorts of things… many of my favorite bloggers have been moving toward a very free and open bursting of expression/language/image this summer and it’s really been fueling me, but i haven’t been able to open my own valves for some reason.  I want to say – wow – there are a bunch of really talented creative persons making stuff on WordPress – and the virtual company means more than I think (I think).  So thanks to all of you for working so hard to MAKE and BECOME – it’s inspiring – believe me…and whether you knew it or not – today you all conspired to inject or confront me with the Archaic Torso of Apollo – a magnificent accomplishment – and Rilke’s “you must revise your life” – a fine firm foot to me arse…

Instigating Change

And then things simply have to change.  Some blogger posted (today) that “this is a little silly” and “let the world tell you what you need to do” – but the world hasn’t said anything, and still it made felt sense.  Someone else (somewhere in the world) decided to go home for the very tawdry reasons that make anything profound, while another (clearly from another section of the globe) has been taken by the moon.

What does that tell you?

Things have got to change.  It’s not working.  You’re not working (but of course you are, (I am) which isn’t what I meant, what I mean being of very little effect).

There are the readings…

Plus all over the world (that is telling you nothing) there are people traveling and taking photographs – but those show, they don’t tell.

A friend did email to say ‘don’t give up’ from a far different location on the earth, but perhaps the “earth” is not the “world,” perhaps world is an elsewhere?  Or simply a voice I cannot hear, something divine.

I keep calling myself “you” as if that might make me other, but even I know you can’t escape yourself.

So I don’t.

I’m intrigued by folks who can write about themselves as if they were themselves and a part of world or simply made it so by writing.  That stuff moves me, true or not.

I spent my day designing characters.  Jim could never lie because he didn’t believe in language (or was it people?).  Leonhardt could always tell the difference but is unable to comprehend the same.  An author left an erotic drawing on his desk upon his death, causing great anxiety for his biographer, utterly incapable of fitting it into his knowledge of said subject.

Those aren’t me.  So something needs to change, you tell yourself.  You’re lost in language, but the labyrinth is becoming a pattern.

There’s a trove of “prompts” out there to help you find your way (is that the “world”?) but inspiration keeps feeling artificial.

You think it might just be the heat, a metaphorical dehydration, you read about a wife who tells her husband he should find someone else with whom to talk about nothing, and you heard echoes of the voices in your home.  Like the world saying things that almost register but you simply can’t believe.  It’s nothing, like that.

You challenged yourself this past year to ‘get personal’, if you wrote real near what hurts others might hurt too, and people like that – empathy, identity, a pingback from the world – but it never became interesting, the personal, you kept sounding like yourself.

And wrote these letters you called journals, out of some idea (I guess) that a world might be within you that could tell you what you need.  Or like Laurie Sheck said (she’s really in the world); that “skin has no choice but to converse with the world” – but does yours listen?

I guess what I am saying is that today brought clouds and wind (a welcome change) and those were world, and I heard something.

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