July Hut Journal
"...where they live, deep within
our psyche, or the waters and woods of our planet, all is chaos, darkness,
and turbulent creative energy that can erupt, break through and over turn
routine daytime existence."
Carol Mack/Dinah Mack -- Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen
Angels , and Other Subversive Spirits
"I have made this, I have forgotten
the rigging weak and canvas rotten
Between one June and another September."
T.S. Eliot, "Matina"
The great thing about being a reader is that you can stop anytime (? actually,
the more I think about that, the less true it seems).
I always tended to hate reading over anything I had written, painful to
go back over and see myself.
now...I go over things several times, not just to correct them but...because
NOTHING seems written by me and I'm in wonderment at the words. Where are
they coming from? Where are they going? I seem to be giving myself a message
from time to time but I often feel dense, not able to decode it fully, there's
always a remainder, a left over that, as David Bowie once sang, "makes
a man loose and hard to swallow."
On the way back from an extended weekend in D.C. I had plenty of time to
think on the eleven hour drive back home. It's amazing to me how much of
`thought' seems to be repetitive detritus. of course maybe that's just me
and my own obsessive repetitions but I suspect that `thought' is more like
a wild matted field of flowers, weeds, vines, brush, saplings, boulders
half hidden in the soil, fully grown trees, a few mushrooms (and there are
certainly many different types and combinations of wild fields)--and that
only when some externalization happens (I think mainly, for me, now, `writing')
it condenses into some halfway sensible form, like the macroscopic manifestation
of atomic structures in many gems, forming perfect cubes, triangles, hairs,
fluorescent colors, all a result of the tunneling outward of unseen processes.
But mainly I was thinking of a remark made by T.S. Eliot somewhere that
every work of art (he was speaking of literature to be more precise) which
becomes visible and accepted, changes our perceptions of all the art which
has come before it, it's jostling into place changes the priorities, procedures,
acceptances, rejections, possibilities and deadends. It's almost like a
causal wave propagating backward (and maybe even forwardly--or maybe it's
all propagating `backward' from the future) in an etheric fluid, disturbing
the groupings on the `oceanic' floor, covering over some shells and revealing
Perhaps that's true of life generally and the emergence of every life/person
into this world, a continual and vast re-alignment from the most un-noticed
to the most visibly global, a constant racheting, slipping and sliding (perhaps
the `butterfly effect' that chaos theory has popularized--just another western
statement of `His eye is on the sparrow'??)--although some (many perhaps)
end up in whirlpools, eddies, always spiraling in the same place, maybe
to extinction.. And maybe the fluid analogy is not a good one, since hydraulics
don't seem to fully account for some of its effects, for some of the synchronicities
and simultaneities, for what seems to be `actions at a distance' (which
technical media accentuates and accelerates apparently).
There is something about the resonance of raw, wild code, the path from
the micro to the macro, that moves in `times' and `spaces' which can hardly
even be pointed to and yet we are fully aware of the effects that peristalsis
(we ARE that movement in the gut). And occasionally I think that the movement
is illusory, like the illusion of movement of a cork bobbing circularly
up and down on the wave...and yet things are lost at sea and washed ashore
But there is still that supporting fluid analogy--how could we put it without
at least something LIKE that analogy (it's even hard to see `language' outside
that framework, almost as if it's reflecting its own formatting--it's awfully
hard not to think in terms of `we are born into the ocean of language,'
i.e., a vast supporting membrance/network of lingual strands, changing yet
remaining the same, bobbing bobbing bobbing within that winedark sea of
guanine, thiamine, cytosine, adenine, a 64 piece alphabet, basal hexagrams
cast out continually pick up sticks always being permutated and thrown language
some semitransparent mirror maybe, half silvered till sufficient energy
is reached like a laser then emerging.)
I've been clearing `weeds' away from around the hut to plant other stuff.
But there is what amounts to a `persistence of memory' with the little squared
circle. Previously the land was occupied by privet hedge and wild grape
vines, huge lianas hanging from the big tree on the edge of the clearing.
Just removing material from the surface is not enough since there is a hidden
mass of roots and runners forming a thick mat of previous inhabitants, just
waiting for a little negligence on my part.
The viney and weedy genius loci of the place is not easily co-operated with
(much less co-opted). I would have to clear the whole area -- bulldoze it
actually -- before the adventitious sprouts could be halted. Nature pushes
constantly, always running along cracks, crevices, any surface where DNA
can find a purchase. How odd then that it has created a creature -- humans
-- which continually fights to eradicate its traces. For better or worse,
there doesn't seem to be a bulldozer big enough to do the job however; not
much comfort to those dying of AIDS or cancer... or suffering from the effects
of toxic pollution, the two sides of that creaturely, technical coin.
There are days when I don't seem to have a handle on much of anything. The
very process of wakening up, getting started seems illusory in a way, accompanied
by the all too real groaning of muscles and throbbing of neck, head. If
one is deeply involved in some particular socius some of that can be scarred
over I guess. At least for a while. I've never been able to collapse very
effectively those two--or subsume the personal into the larger event. It's
a neat trick to be able to do so. I AM fascinated by absorption of the very
largest `events' -- but that's tricky because those sorts of things verge
on the eschatological and hence remain pretty much inaccessible. Anyway,
it seems to me that larger forces are always seeking to suck out the particularized
aspects of the individual;. That's what I always respected about `art',
that it resists that osmosis in some
way (and yet---in a way GIVES IN to that globablizing impulse to a degree
far greater than any other process). When if becomes just another form of
`professionalism,' then it's just another factory job maybe.
And a `factory job' is a concept, not any ONE thing. The factory now resides
on a silicon chip and the disciplines it exacts are finer (more Foucaultian
one could say) and therefore its grip on perception and epistemology is
all the more greater, beginning to fill in all the interstitial places of
For example: how attached I am now to the computer and the communications
it involves! Sometimes to the point of it becoming a main reality. There
is nothing new with that now. Many people are now wandering around with
this virtual growth sticking out of their bodies, their heads. But to explain
the sort of completion which it entails is difficult. For a certain type
of personality (i.e., me) there is a sense of grazing at the edge of a huge
ocean and occasionally, if I shift my internal vision just right, it becomes
like those springs in Florida where you drift about a couple of feet above
the sand in the clear cool water then...of a sudden you are over a bottomless
black pit and an increasingly forbidding, even panicky feeling.
But then, when all is said and done, it's like the lyric from a pop song
I heard recently: "When everything's like the movies / you bleed just
to know you're alive..."
Lots of bleeding these days.
And another lyric in the song maybe hits closer to home...or hut anyway:
"When everything's broken / I just want you to know who I am..."
The only things that matter are those things that we think matter. (How
else -- how Nietzschean -- can one think now? Any sorts of `intrusions'
into the human realm are not accepted now at least by the mainstream of
western culture. I saw a movie last night about the last days of the American
Indian, specifically the Apache, as they conflicted with the `move west'
and we know those results -- and that's always the way it is now; all Western
conflicts with an other are staged now; even the oppositions to that culture
are brought forward in terms which that culture -- western, technical culture
-- has defined. To ask questions outside the borders of that culture --
assuming one can effectively do so -- risks putting one on the side of total
nonsense). And the longer one hangs around on the edges of that culture
observing it, the more frightened one can become. correction: the more frightened
I become. And the more difficult it is to insert myself into that culture
other than in a nominal way. Remember that old saying from Pogo? "I
has seen the enemy and it is us."
The world rests on a thin reed of will and memory. And those are often at
war with each other, threatening a collapse back into the marshy bottoms.
(And in the distance I can hear the grim reaper of the engines of technology
cutting and baling those reeds.) Maybe that is why some have such an admiration
of the Machine -- neither the energy for continually hoisting oneself (will)
nor the pain of being in the substance of time (memory) is necessary.
"There is a natural movement of repulsion that turns us away from
hell and thereby puts us in its keeping."
M. Blanchot / The Limit-Experience
The constant rain for the last few days has given a tremendous boost to
the growth of plants around the hut. The fecundity, under normal circumstances,
of just a few square feet of land is amazing. And a little frightening really.
When I'm feeling good there is a reassuring quality to the growth, something
that seems far beyond any attempt to control it or kill it off. When I'm
not feeling quite all together, it seems threatening, unstoppable, oppressive,
the air seems thick with motes of bio-ness, making me queasy about taking
the next breathe; the humid interior of some huge ghastly creature in the
midst of digestion...
Now that I think about it: it's the same ambivalence I feel sometimes when
I'm on the expressway amidst all the cars and concrete. There are times
in cities when I have the feeling I'm sure many others have: humans, just
seem like some sort of infestation. My mind's eye expands to take in all
the concrete `anthills' girdling the globe, linked with all those strands
of concrete. I see those photos of the earth at night from orbit, all the
lights festooning the dark side, some phosphorescent fungus slowly swallowing
its host. Or a gathering slimemold, congregating to send its substance up
and away -- assuming it could get safely though the gathering space cloud
of thousands of bits of debris and space junk in orbit above the earth,
a shimmery junkyard floating over our heads.
And speaking of massification:
And to be in Washington and see the solidification of these control mechanisms
in the form of massive stone buildings ... well, I would say that `monumentality'
-- and it exists in various forms and levels of size and strength -- can
often be a result of ventriloquization (as with the Egyptophilic / occult
connect) and trauma (and the relationship with trauma is an over determined
one: if there were no monumentality -- no very large erections -- would
there be war? or: if there were no conflict would there be any need for
monumentality, hermes erected at the limit of the city?)
A monument is a time marker, a banding linking a traumatic event as a memorial
carrying the wound into the future, or as the southern confederate bumper
sticker bumptiously says, "Hell no I ain't fergot!" The scar tissue
which the monument represents allows one to readily access the memory codes
governing pain and destruction, NOT in order to eradicate such but to transport
it into coming generations.
Monument, scar, fetish, cicatrix, klaxon, they all act to create effects
and affects through time, an attempt to avoid `false memory syndrome' (perhaps
with monumentality we should call it `Ozymandias Syndrome' after the poem)
by entrenching pain as victory, barbarity as civilization, and death as
everlasting life. In a certain sense ALL monuments are pyramids (comes from
the Greek word for `fire'), torches seen in the distance and through dark
geological time (or rather: an attempt to supersede historical time with
the deeper strata of geological time).
I'm thinking all this in direct relationship to the hut and perhaps even
art in general, whether it is connection with `capital-intensive,' logo
art (which constitutes the bulk of art these days) or the lost affective
states of injured, abject subjectivities which `Art' most often seems to
be (especially if it doesn't fit into the gallery/productive/capital intensive
mode--and maybe even if it does) -- what is often thought of as the `healing;'
or therapeutic aspects of art (frowned on by High Art most often I guess
-- I think sometimes that the fascination which art institutions have with
`folk art' and `outsider art' is some inchoate concern with those aspects
-- which the institution as institution can never get to of course because
the institution continually works to turn it into monument/trauma), these
`healing' aspects INEVITABLY become scar tissue once it escapes from its
immediate surroundings--which it does instantly these days.
The sublimation effects, which Freud applauded and Benjamin frowned on,
are no doubt part of this ventriloquization I've been going on about, action
at a distance, both spatially and temporally.
And most often the micro-monumentality of the hut (inseparable I think from
this writing about/from/in it) seems like a bruise (I'm thinking now of
Ed Leedskalnin with Coral Castle in Florida--certainly fits all these descriptions
if you read his own material or visit
the place . (perhaps that's why I'm so drawn to
Blanchot now, where even words can take on, if I can be oxymoronic, an intimate
monumentality -- which often amounts to an uncanniness, a primal unheimlich;
but which also seems heavily bruised and scarred...I think that's often
why Americans seem so at odds with European material, they/we can't seem
to get past the scar tissue, it even seems to be true of the Holocaust.)
I think the trick here is to see the `ontological bruising' (as Blanchot
does) and past any individual instance of such.
And something that puts me ill at ease is the degree to which we often WILL
this bruising, as part of a larger pattern that can only be dimly glimpsed.
Somehow identity (individual, sexual, national, ethnic, gender) seems bound
with this scarification which has positive as well as negative aspects (although
which side of the ideological line you are on determines whether you see
it as positive or negative to a large degree, fusional or divisional: the
fusional collectivity of the left or the `severed head,' radical individuality
of the right. It's not very often that it is that straightforward of course,
there being a porous border between the two. And certainly there are different
pathologies related to the two forms. But it is often the case that one
`side' desires the other, in that complicated formation known as sado-masochism.
The fetishism associated with Nazi Germany is an example associated with
that -- keeping in mind all the while the `liberatory' possibilities that
freudomarxists once proffered: Marcuse, Reich, N.O. Brown, etc. Maybe it's
the case that all revolutionary thinking can only operate by excluding the
possibilities of chiasmatic reversals---hence perhaps the great relevance
of genetic research and tech--for the first time there is the theoretical
possibility of straightening out those `kinks'---don't whether that does
away with the complications of desire though. Unless you engineer even THAT
out. Perhaps that truly WOULD be the end of history. . . certainly as the
way we have known it ).
And perhaps the ATTRACTION of the bruise /wound /monument is its appeal
to `geological time,' a time where human subjectivity feathers into (for
whatever reasons) an un-human, in-human time, the time of stones, angels,
monsters (this is often the appeal of Benjamin for me--and of poststructuralism
in general)....and in fact, pain generally seems to have that effect more
than pleasure (how much of great art, literature, tragedy etc is based on
such painful dissociations/sublimations? Would there be such a thing as
`greatness' [however we would define it] if there were no such thing as
pain? Would there be an revolutions of expectations if there were no pain?)
But to have that realization of that connection and then to actively COURT
pain and trauma in the hopes of grasping `greatness' -- there seems to be
some sort of crux (cross) for humanity which throws a spanner in many social
projects. `Treat others as you would have them treat you' only works in
a society in which there is no such thing as sado-masochism.
When I was starting to go through all my personal problems, the people involved
kept asking me "What's your plan?" I no more have one now that
I did then. I realize that puts me at a distinct disadvantage and I take
no great pleasure in it (mainly because I find it hard to understand what
that means). My only `plan' was and is never to knowingly hurt anyone. Well.
How totally inadequate and inappropriate THAT `plan' is. And in at least
SOME respects that is assuredly a plan for self-destruction since human
culture generally seems to have an investment in sacrifices of various sorts
and at various levels, all the way from the deep interior of subjectivity
to the most formidable organizational structure. So I'll say this plain:
plans need victims.
So it was with interest that I read this recent quote from Franz Rosenzweig
(a little book called Understanding the Sick and the Healthy: A View
of World, Man, and God...A compatriot of Walter Benjamin you might say):
"What is intended to be of limited scope can be carried out according
to a limited, clearly outlined plan -- it can be `organized'. The unlimited
cannot be attained by organization. That which is distant can be attained
only through that which is nearest at the moment. Any `plan' is wrong to
begin with -- not simply because it is a plan. The highest things cannot
be planned; for them readiness is everything."
`Plans' bring in their wake many other `needs' to make them work: tests,
systems of gradations and hierarchies, which means bureaucracies, which
means enforcement agencies and all the corollary services of courts and
jails for those who can't adhere to the Plan. (The largest Plan now in existence
is the Catholic Church in that it is one of the largest trans-temporal `plans'
ever put into play [which as you know dear I would say begins with the Egyptians--or
perhaps Homo erectus] -- and hence has required the most sacrifices...I
might even make the point that technology sometimes seems an outgrowth of
that whole Plan and hence IT'S sacrifices may turn out to be total.)
And can't DNA be seen, in its technical unveiling, as a sort of plan?
commercial for car dealer heard on radio: "We have a plan for everyone!"
No doubt. That's precisely what folks are afraid of.
... woke up this morning with a general feeling of collapse, failure, economic
ruin. If I wrote about that every time it happened, this journal would be
nothing but one long scream. No matter how hard a writer tries, he can only
get isometric approximations to his states of mind, the language can't seem
to be bent hard enough before it breaks off into babel and debris. And besides
that's probably asking too much of anything, it's really an asking for some
form of sympathetic (rather than asymptotic) magic which will osmotically
pull one's pain through all the surrounding scrim of reality and dispose
of it...like blowing one's nose perhaps. And then everything is O.K. and
one hasn't had to venture too far afield, hasn't had to get one's feet dirty
with `ordinary reality'....
Speaking of ordinary: I'm having some big problems with that little book
by Rosenzweig. It is a valorization of `common sense' I suppose...He uses
two examples of common sense, around the purchase of butter and marriage.
Frankly neither of those has anything to do with common sense and stability
of meaning now. Butter is not butter (what is that ad? "I can't believe
it's not butter!" -- and if it is, it's not good for you) and relations
between men and women are certainly anything but stabile and commonsensical
-- and if it is, it's suspect. No, it's not true of every one now, but it's
true often enough (I'm not THAT isolated in hut reality) that it has destroyed
any conception of a common sense baseline. Or certainly has displaced it
a far bit from Rosenzweig's time 60 or 70 years ago. The book is certainly
interesting as an early analysis of `men/women without qualities' and the
corrosive effect of Nietzschean modernism and the continual lapping of the
seas of dissolution at our feet. However, the force of technology and world
culture is such that any reliance on a concept of something held in common
(and `sense' for god's sake at that) seems ... hopelessly anachronistic.
and frustrating. The whole relationship to our environment has shifted so
much -- mechanized farming, fabricated `butter' and artificial fat, our
fatally symbiotic relationship with the automobile, etc. -- that one can
only cock one's head at the peculiar little book. Culture and life is now
fully stood on its head ... and no one seems the wiser! And if they are,
there's not a thing they can do about it. The basic things of life that
would be necessary for a `commonsensical' foundation are just not there.
People now drive an hour (or more) to work, in cars that have been imported
from halfway around the world, eat lunch out of machines monitored from
another city perhaps, spend the day basically serving a bureaucracy that
allows this disconnected functioning to happen, spends another hour getting
back home, where she or he -- alone quite likely -- prepares dinner by opening
a series of plastic containers of pre-cooked food and heating it in the
microwave, preparing for 4 or 5 hours of television (wrestling, war footage,
Jenny Jones and Jerry Springer, MTV's Real World [!], and into the further
hinterlands of culture if you have big cable; or sitting in front of a computer
monitor hooked to the net) before exhaustedly retiring to bed in a house
or apartment tightly sealed and air conditioned and getting up the next
morning and doing it all over again. (The variations on that pattern would
have to do with INCREASING the speed and comprehensiveness of all that,
increasing then effacing the distinction between the artificial and the
natural.) I don't understand: where is ANY common sense in any of that,
in a world where almost NOTHING is close at hand in some sense?? Where does
common sense come into play in choosing between twenty varieties of cereal?
or five types of `butter'? or taking into account the surgeon general's
report that butter shouldn't be eaten at all? The de-stabilized world that
Rosenzweig was going on about is a fait accompli. And there is undoubtedly
a `common sense' that allows one to function in such circumstances (allows
you to choose a cereal or route to work) but it seems to have little in
common with the primal sensus communis of Rosenzweig.
The whole universe has become a `theoretical' one now (in the German speculative
idealist sense that R. was writing about), all the way from `extreme' sports
(which I take to be a type of gestural speculative maneuver) to the most
intimate moments of one's life, now continually mediated by a combination
of television and therapy and television-as-therapy and even performance
I'll make another flat statement: all attempts to withdraw from that scenario
have been failures, sometimes, maybe even usually, catastrophically so.
This `system of history' allows no anti-bodies to exist for long, once they
have been discovered. The common sense of THIS system is to eliminate common
sense....which has now come to mean fundamentalisms of any sort. One is
tempted to say `like it or leave it' ... except there isn't any leaving
it. But Rosenzweig isn't about leaving it but being more firmly HERE rather
than THERE where `sick reason' and mystigogues hold sway. (And yet...in
some sense, how FAR away he is from a current reality.)
Well, it's a neat little book in some ways ... but hard to connect to in
other ways. This kind of hits and hurts a little:
"Pretending to the throne of the world, you are expelled from your
own home; it is what you deserve; your pretensions made you despise your
rightful place and you acted as though you headed a government of the world
in exile instead of taking care of your house. The world can safely leave
you to your pretensions; you are incapable of making a single move on the
chessboard. And even were you able to attain to the authority you claim,
you would be incapable of doing more than confirm the statues already in
existence. Through the eyes of your giant, self-inflated ego, absolute nothing
grins --absolute nothing which neither knows nor feels nor wants."
Rosenzweig gives a description of the onset of this `sick reason' illness,
this malaise of philosophy-induced vertigo as the world of common sense
is left behind:
"He had gone about his duties as usual and then suddenly he had
been struck by thought. He had stopped, and when he wanted to continue,
he had found himself unable to. The very ground beneath him had been undermined.
His own body seemed a stranger to him. He had not known how near or how
far objects were from him; the horizon had wavered; he had required proof
and assurance of everything. Thus it was that he had stopped, and was unable
If it (modernity, let's say) is an illness of sick reason as he contends
then it is a sickness that has escaped into -- or is given shape by -- our
modern instrumentality in some way. (It's odd to think of `German idealism'
as having escaped from the Hegel's nest into the technology--but then early
modernism generally has often seemed like a German/Jewish phenomena: Freud,
Wittgenstein, Von Braun, Nietzsche, Heisenberg, Marx, Schönberg, etc
etc) From Rosenzweig's p.o.v. our very tools are infected. (I suppose the
question could be: are they INHERENTLY infected, i.e. the very nature of
techne itself cuts the human up, we always grasp it by the blade; or is
it just our particular modern circumstances, temporary and passing...)
The only place that `common sense' can be found now seems to be in within
restricted arenas of identity: identity art, identity politics, etc.; as
the expression goes, a `balkanization,' or divisional strategy which not
only contains but allows...but then the limitations of such a strategy have
become very apparent recently.
And of course Rosenzweig also was speaking from within a divisional strategy
of jewish life -- or at the very least judeochristian life and culture.
It seems more complicated even in that that very culture has been instrumental
(so to speak) in bringing such an instrumentalized culture into existence
-- as well as its pathologies (one reason I'm so fascinated by Santner's
book, My Own Private Germany: Jean Paul Schreber's Secret History of
Modenity as well as Waite's Nietzsche's Corps(e) )
And I could also look at that car commercial again where everything outside
the car window is synchronized and in time with the music as the car passes
through `reality' -- that's what common sense has become, that's what is
given to us now as the way the world holds together and makes sense: only
as an artificial construct which SUPERSEDES all other identities, a sensus
communis which is possible because of the instruments that bind it together
-- not god, not one's identity or perception of who one is (regardless of
what all the therapeutized instrumental modalities go on about -- it seems
to me their approach is simply an even cleverer, in that it's more invisible,
The primal conflict has simply given way to conflict embodied, or AS the
very culture of Judeo-Christian technical western culture itself. (an example:
last night I was watching a special on Ishi, often called the `last wild
Indian' -- itself an appellation worthy of a step back. Ishi came out of
the brush in California in 1911, after his whole tribe had been decimated
many years earlier. The state of California in 1850 had bounties on Indians
and hunters were paid according to the numbers of scalps you brought in,
and the state was then reimbursed by the federal government. The state paid
out one and a half million dollars in scalp bounties. The attempt by the
Yahi Indians to maintain their tribal way of life came into conflict with
the western expansion and, given the feisty and aggressive nature of the
Yahi apparently in opposing their resettlement, all four hundred of them
were wiped out -- except for Ishi. I would contend that process is still
going on. But rather than as represented by Ishi, better represented by
that car commercial. Just because Cain slays Abel doesn't mean anything
stops; it just, as Foucault noticed, goes inside and, necessarily then,
undercover. Better, also, to have live bodies/consumers nowadays -- just
have to empty'em and refill them with something a little more tractable.
And of course a big problem is that the very tools of analysis to examine
the `problem' are in fact---formed by that very problem... And then we are
in the midst of that very paralysis that Rosenzweig wrote about. Except
with no recourse (as far as I can see) to his solution of `common sense'.
It's not a problem of common sense but a problem of navigation. There is
a slight relationship to common sense here, but it may not be all that common.
All you need are a set of coordinates that are fixed in relation to each
other...but it's not the `coordinates' that is the problem but the `fixed
in relation to' that can give fits, since we are running the gamut here
from GPS to the Tarot and I Ching. Perhaps it would be better to talk about operating within
inertial frames as they do in relativity physics.
Speaking of navigating by the Tarot: it has become obvious to me that several
of the observations L. made about...things are very painfully true. Maybe
especially about me. which is where the `very' part comes in. Well. That's
just the way it is I guess. Because somebody knows something...doesn't mean
they are able to change it. One can only use what one has. And can only
see where one looks.
See, you wanted something personal but it's meaningless to you. So now you
want more. which will be just as meaningless. And frankly just as meaningless
to me also.
The problem with getting older is having to live with the discoveries one
makes about oneself.
"sheltered in its effusions, the flesh unfolds its flowerings, holding
nothing back. Radiant, invisible body of air. The look's every embrace finds
there the heaven of its light. The flesh and the look marrying without remove,
were it even that of a veil or skin that always maintains distance, rendering
impossible their penetration into each other."
I am always on the next page of this book,
waiting, knowing what it says almost.
I could have written this book--certainly it has written ME,
and often with an uncanny painfulness that makes it difficult to read
for a second (or third or fourth) time:
"He knew what his first word had been; he was certain that by saying
to her: `Come' -- and she had immediately drawn near -- he had made her
enter this circle of attraction where one could begin to speak only because
everything had already been said. Was he too close to her? Was there no
longer enough distance between them? And wasn't she too familiar in her
He had attracted her; that was his magic, his mistake. "You did not
attract me; you haven't attracted me yet."
"Mystery: its essence is to be always on this side of attention.
And the essence is the ability to preserve, in and through itself, that
which is always on this side of attention and the source of all waiting:
Attention, the welcoming of that which escapes attention, an opening onto
the unexpected, waiting that is the unexpected in all waiting."
"When he asks himself. `What does she expect of me?' he suspects
that she has no expectations but rather is at the limit of expectation."
"Don't gods live in this way? Solitary, unique, unfamiliar with
the light that emanates from them. They hardly disturbed me, it is true.
I had grown accustomed to their presence. I rejoiced in being unknown to
them, but I was unable to determine if this ignorance was a result of their
extreme discretion or a divine indifference. The ancient gods, the ancient
gods, how near they are to us."
(Awaiting Oblivion / Maurice Blanchot)
ok, one more:
"Of this, he was well aware: he pushed her gently toward forgetting.
Attracting her toward him, he attracted her toward someone she always forgot
more profoundly, more superficially. The words had been said, the utterances
burned, the silence traversed by fire. They were still pressed against each
other, both of them deprived of themselves. `Why must I forget you?' Was
forgetting the ultimate goal? Waiting, forgetting.
`I have known you only so that I can know nothing of you and lose myself
completely in you.'
everything you say bounces off me
and sticks on you...
I'm actually much stickier than rubber...
Blanchot is the only one who has ever come close to limning the seizures
I feel / have fallen into.
All of American culture now seems to be a vast camp for journalists, and
the net has only made it worse; an incredible empting out where the most
mysterious, or violent, or loving turns almost immediately into its preposterous
other. And sometimes I can't decide whether it's hilarious or tragedy beyond
description...or even what the difference is.
Maybe such a thing only exists on `pages' in 'ink'...
certainly I seem many times to be radically divided inside. I can be feeling
the most abject, depressed, other worldly in this Blanchotian sense but
when I enter the social another Aspect steps forward momentarily (thankfully)
obscuring that continual gnawing (the word `knowledge' by the way comes
from the Latin word gnarus, knowing, by way of indo-european root
But the mystery of these other shapes moving through the world (part of
the cause of the gnawing) ... granted that's all there is and some would
prefer the pragmatism of one step in front of the other. I can understand
that...I can't BE in that place but I can understand the anxiety that comes
from continually standing on one foot. A form of waiting I guess Blanchot
would put it (which is quite different from hesitation; waiting, like psychoanalysis
or Godot or the messianic interval, can be interminable; if you scratch
just lightly beneath the surface of contemporary life, various forms and
durations of waiting immediately manifest themselves...the whole flow of
capital seems to be an exercise in putting this waiting to use, giving waiting
an hydraulics of lift...this is not far at all from a dialectics of lift,
separation, merging, over and over again. In the witch's hut one can indulge,
only briefly mind you, in what seems like a pure waiting [it's not really,
but it's the closest I'VE ever come]...under those circumstances `time'
becomes a palpable entity, a viscous mass slowly pouring through everything--or
more `true' maybe, the world IS a viscous mass, other times, it is the whole
world become a translucent-ness, moving at light speed and hence always
already `there' where ever there is a there to be, intimations of a collapse
of time, a mortification, even, of time.)
But often there seems nothing but interval. Something...then interval. Of
either a `long' or `short' duration, the idea of `duration' itself being
of some questionableness -- yet of necessity applicable since otherwise
ALL the jams are kicked out and the whole edifice caves in.
It's very difficult, maybe impossible, to get from the evanescent `nowness'
of one's consciousness to anything else, whether consideration of another
time (even recent time, much less `deep` time) or simply another consciousness.
Sitting in the hut reading, then falling into a reverie listening to the
birds and the continual burr of cicada, even `now' begins to disintegrate
into random bits and pieces of memories, hopes, fantasies -- and no way
to judge them other than by `consensus vote' of those among whom one moves
in the culture. Like steam released into fog, one's self becomes indiscernible
all too quickly.
It's no wonder I suppose that part of the strangeness of being a human is
this unquenchable desire to leave `now' (stronger in some than others) by
whatever means necessary or possible: drugs, travel, exploration, war, violence,
almost anything to break the trance.
It could be that tech is the strongest pry bar we have found yet in that
quest to leave ourselves. And by the same token it's also the most dangerous
to any stable concept of what `human' is. That will be the rallying cry
/ stroke which will divide the future of the species wherein such terms
as radical, liberal, conservative, etc. are tossed: the degree to which
the concept `human' should be kept (conservative), modified (liberal), or
left behind (radical). It's a direction the evacuation of the gods from
their homes has long pointed to...and in fact once something becomes a `concept,'
it becomes available (you can cite your Heidegger here), and is on the road
to being mutated.
But it's still awfully difficult sometimes to distinguish the murmur of
the gods from the keening of the cicada -- especially when there is a jet
plane passing overhead.
During the holiday I happened to come across `Teletubbies' in the
afternoon--which felt really strange since I used to see it when I couldn't
sleep and would get up very early and numbly watch TV. It definitely fit
into the `dream state' sort of mode I was in.
In this particular episode La-la came across a sheep in the idyllic pasture/lawn.
The sheep was in a kind of 4 wheel thing with a push handle on the back.
Occasionally it would baa. La-la thought it was sad and tried to help it
(all the while gargling that weird childish/animal/alien burble that is
teletubbie talk). Then Dipsy, then Tinky Winky, then Po each came out burbling
back and forth to each other with their barely comprehensible dialect (nevertheless
you COULD understand it) each with a solution to the sheep's sadness which
didn't work. Finally another sheep-on-wheels rolled up, happiness found
and they rolled off together into the blazing baby-sun. Bye bye Teletubbies,
as they jumped into their hole and then popped up again before disappearing.
I guess it's easy to see why the Reverend Jerry Falwell is put ill at ease
watching the little inscrutable things do their almost-inscrutable actions.
One is surely put into a kind of dream state, both infantile yet strangely
adult in some soothing minimalist but uncanny way: an alien Mr. Rodger's
Neigborhood maybe. (Also, oddly enough, reminded me of the bucolic and melancholy
writing of science fiction author Clifford D. Simak).
And yes, there does seem to be some sort of coding going on with Teletubbies.
.. I'm not saying that there IS, just that it's relaxing, almost hypnotic
pacing, the garbled verbal repetitions at the edge of sense, everything
just dissociated enough to keep one's attention -- it all could seem like
some insidious PLOT if you were sufficiently anal retentive to fear a rubbing
through to your dream consciousness, and hence a slow erosion -- or reconfiguration
-- of your parameters of individual/group boundaries --or that great bugaboo
now: "fear for the children"
When we're young and we know neither ourselves or the world, it seems like
both can continue to grow indefinitely and that we would always discover
new things about both what goes on outside as well as inside.
At some point we realize the truth about `growth' of all kinds: there are
limits. Perhaps the only sort of growth without limits is of the metastasizing
tumorous kind. At some point we pretty much ARE who we are and that's about
it. The whole therapy `industry' is predicated on something different but...that's
a combination of baby boomer hubris and economic need on the part of the
new industry of therapy. We (almost) never become something than who we
are (now the question of how DEEP that `who-ness' is, that particular, personalized
take on the world is something else; and it may be also that a `who' is
a much larger sort of thing than we are most of the time willing to admit).
How very strange then to see something like on Larry King tonight. In 1997
an apparently otherwise mild-mannered Mormon guy, who was sleepwalker, killed
his wife, stabbing her 44 times, virtually dismembering her then drowning
her in the pool (in his sleepwalking he seemed to be trying to repair the
pool pump when she heard him and tried to stop him I guess). Anyway he was
convicted and was on the show being interviewed. No other anomalies in his
life, Mr.. normal, Mr.. loving family man. And he did indeed seem very normal,
if somewhat affectless, on the show. Obviously the jury couldn't understand
a `sleepwalking' defense. And admittedly it IS hard to understand, because
to understand it means that we admit to a new demonology perhaps, but one
based on `sickness', or the idea of some basic psychic duality, yet having
nothing to do with `good' and `evil' as we have know them for thousands
It's like this maybe: as I was out riding the bike today, I went across
a very high overpass, a former train track tressle. I could almost look
down on the trees and at any rate I had a definite perspective on them,
no longer down below them where we take them for granted. And it was amazing
to me how uniform in height they looked, a thin verdigris on the surface
of the earth, with a few of us little human earth worms down below. It's
a trite observation by now given that we have the much more powerful global
perspective of space flight now--but still it gave me a gut level feeling
of what a thin layer all our machinations, our communications, great projects
and dreams: we exist in the skin of an apple. easy to say, almost impossible
to `think'--yet how much MORE invisible and impossible to think is...our
own brain and the sheer thinnesses it revels in while swimming through its
murk; great, dark, unresolvable shapes lit only by an occasional flash of
Yeah, better to convict the guy the juror thinks. It could be that the gates
of hell swing on enlightenment just as well as they do on superstition.
It seems like it's been raining for a week. All of the plants around the
hut had gotten quite high, now the rains have beaten them into a flattened
green mass mostly. And they continue to grow in that fashion. It's gotten
a little too witchy and out of hand even for me. The flowers I had planted
in the spring are all ragged and overdosed with the rains and are beginning
to seem increasingly out of place in what is turning into a soggy, semi-tropical
And the high humidity is making everything seem far too close -- and languid.
I have to go to coffee shops to write, lest I start looking for Kurtz in
earnest and everything seems even more pointless than usual. Or rather,
paradoxically, pointless and supersaturated.
Yet at the same time, writing seems far TOO linear, not capable of being
nearly saturated enough, not capable of carrying enough weight -- without
seeming to be like those five foot dahlia stems, hopelessly collapsing in
on themselves, limbs breaking, their `point' (well, do dahlias HAVE a point?)
disappearing under a wet mass of horizontal greenery. I suppose the `point'
of dahlias would be their blooms and that staking is necessary for them
to maintain that point.
I don't know how one `stakes' language to keep it from flopping over, to
keep it's `point' from disappearing. (That's what institutions are for).
And language's point is even more evanescent than a dahlia I think (after
all, the major point for the dahlia is to act as an agent for the spread
of itself: reproduction. Some have made that point, more less, about words
(`language is a virus'--Burroughs--which captures the peculiar living/dead
aspect of language). Nevertheless, it doesn't seem quite right inasmuch
as ALL human enterprise can be said to be an extrapolation toward the end
of perpetuation of the species. (the problem with Darwinism, as well as
Freudianism, is that there is no way out of their problematics, they are
tar babies -- does that mean that they are `true'? Perhaps there is a form
of truth as `inexorable inclusion' -- but how do we separate that from coercion?)
At any rate, even language seems too close and heated sometimes (like now),
like the continuous humidity, skin coextensive with the environment everything
tied together with the gas of water covering everything -- but with language
you can't even close your eyes to get a little peace, some little machine
inside yammering continuously like the fable of the machine under the ocean
Years ago, jazz critics used to write about the `next thing.' All of the
language of jazz, rhythm, harmony, melody, seemed to be undergoing a revolutionary
phase shift of perception (like culture itself in fact) to a new frame of
reference. Everyone was looking toward the `next wave,' or the `new wave'
as the Impulse record label had it. (As a brief aside here, I will have
to admit that those albums and similar ones -- cecil taylor, john coltrane,
ornette coleman, etc. -- acted as incredible talismans for me, not just
the music I think but the packaging, the photographs, the reviews, the whole
aura of `next-ness' which seemed to place the music outside of ordinary
experience, seemed to be h(e)arolding a revolution, seemed to be transforming
experience itself into a futural thing: whatever it was, it was coming;
the sheer force, intensity, and inventiveness would be enough to blow away
the past and push us into the future. Of course, I wasn't familiar with
Benjamin's angelus novus then...)
The whole culture of modernity (perhaps even of the west in general) is
based on `expectancy' and a `to-comeness.' a forever delayed but expected
event (or `ereignis' in Heideggerean terms, an Appropriation, or accumulation
of properties...'eventing' more properly). This is true from the lowest,
most banal instances of culture to the very highest `metaphysical' expectations.
(A measure of this `futural progress of next-ness' is that it is now very
difficult to differentiate the two, the highest seems the lowest and most
useless, and vice versa.)
The whole idea of fashion is based on revolving cyclical expectations, whether
clothing styles, automobile and industrial design generally, or art movements.
Periodicity is the rhythmic engine of modernity II include po mo in that
also and whatever is acomin' (next) after pomo -- playdo maybe).
At one time and for most people -- even moderns --having children was a
big `event,' sufficient to satisfy the modern hunger for `expectancy.' Reproduction
in that sense seems to have become a weak force.
We wait more fervently than ever -- but not for other humans to arrive.
We await the next big movie, the next global conflict, the next advance
in chip production, the next catastrophe, the next design change in whatever-product,
the next CD by whoever. The duration of waiting has gotten shorter and shorter.
And we become increasingly IM-patient with other humans, for not fulfilling
our expectations, for not being able to fill/meet/deal with the deepening
/ widening spaces inside. But how can a human compete with the revolutionary
cycling of the machine, its ability to always deliver? (But I would contend
that these `spaces inside' are products of this technological structure
in some way...)
One could make the point that this periodicity is a result of the earth
itself, its seasonal rotations, inevitabilities, disappointments (conditioning
even the sex act itself) -- and that the `technological' is the ultimate
distillation of this `expectancy / fulfillment' cycle, that techne, in its
temporal structure of arrival/collapse, arrival/collapse, is the messianic
impulse in its purest form. Waiting to be evacuated...to be interpreted
in any way you like.
So we are back, like Joyce's Riverrun, back to Nietzsche (and Heidegger.
and Freud. and ... ) and pain and powered wills and the creation of modernism...
If Nietzsche was right (and some, rightfully perhaps, shudder at that thought,
even as his shadow looms larger and larger, lumping serpentine-like over
the gravestones of the twentieth century, climbing into the 21st like the
Mayan sunsnake climbing up the pyramid), if he was right (or just influential)
then it is pain and not pleasure, which drives human development of all
sorts. It is pain which has `domesticated' the human animal. But most oddly
and disturbingly of all, it is pain which creates the `soul,' which causes
our psychical `internal spaces' to expand, balloon-like, taking on increasingly
more importance. So much so that `great souls' are products of great suffering..
This results in virtually unthinkable consequences in the twentieth century.
And says to me that the intertwining of trauma, development, progress, and
`expectation' is such that the culture has no CHOICE but to complete an
eschatological `great scourging' or chastisement if it is to make a transition
to a `next' stage of development; (I don't endorse this. This seems to be
what the culture expects however --and both the left and the right expect
this chastisement, although from different areas).
But perhaps it will be the case that the `slow explosions' of technology
(rust??) is this chastisement, a continual bending and stretching of the
human organism, continual 24 hour/7 day/52 week assault. No wonder that
trauma looms so large in contemporary consciousness. The brandings of this
process may not even have a point, like espaliering a plant -- it's only
point is to conform it to a wall or a shape foreign to what it would assume
left to its own devices.
In other words, technology IS a form of this disciplining punishment, an
espaliering that creates the soul even as it stretches it. This is the German
/ Jewish / modernist matrix par excellance -- or at least one of the points
in history where the cicatrix glows through.
And while the embers of that pain flared up into bonfires in Germany --
I think the future of pain belongs to America, in its patient, banal, utilitarian
grindings of `fashion,' of `development,' of `progress' -- the slow pulverizations
of the `everyday,' the small spot where the `rubber hits the road' and its
inexorable grip toward the future both in its archival forgetfulness and
in the blind arbitrariness (and its chance/gaming protocols) of a "mechanistic
chain of ideas, or in something purely passive, automatic, reflex-like,
molecular, and fundamentally stupid." (On the Genealogy of Morals)