me hut journal october 2003  

"Art gives us the illusion of liberation from the sordid business of being."
Fernando Pessoa

"The false aliveness of the past-made-present, the elimination of every echo of a 'lament' from history, marks history's final subjection to the modern concept of science."
Walter Benjamin

Oct 6
I've just started reading The Trickster and the Paranormal after having read a review of it by Jacques Vallee on the National Institute of Discovery Science website. Hansen's main thesis is that the so-called paranormal resides in conditions of marginality AND tends to create liminal conditions if given half a chance. You will find only ridicule the closer you get to centers of power around the topic whether in the academy, in the media, or in politics. So far he hasn't really given any idea as to why this should be so other than the intuitive one that such a subtle phenomena needs liminality to literally work it's magic. Destructuring, as he calls it, happens in periods of personal and cultural stress; apparently the falling apart of structure allows another sort of (non) structure to make its appearance. This occluded, misty, seen-out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye, quality has been a constant throughout human history. (In fact, I would contend that to some degree, the conditions that make for this destructuring and hence anomalous phen. to appear is the same general phenomena which we handily call the Left Hand Path as opposed to the Right Hand Path and this has shaken itself out in the twentieth century into socialism and capitalism, liberal and conservative, and in many other circumstances --that is, these are the 'administrative' fallouts or placeholders in a planarized, bureacratized culture which for the most part has seemingly hollow shells which indicate formerly ontic states: the center and the periphery is another way to put it, with many, many consequences following from that bifurcation

At any rate, has my life long interest in such topics led to my marginality or somehow the marginality came first? Or some factor completely unknown to any of us. Certainly art fits into that liminal state. …although as with everything, regularization is proceeding apace there also, enough to make large parts of it very uninteresting to me.

I suspect my interest is/was ALWAYS in this area, whether I've been in anthopology, in psychology, in art, in philosophy, or in music for that matter. There is something about improvisation that seems to fit perfectly into Hansen's formulations in so far as it is always in a marginal state, and is always about releasing certain energies, by allowing cracks and fissures to develop so that new forms appear

oct 13
It's always difficult to get started when I've been away from the hut (and I'm not
even sure the H.U.T. is operable anymore-- the ravages of time are certainly taking
their toll.)

I've not been in the best mood lately. I've come to the conclusion that there is
nothing to be done for that. All of my 'projects' seem to be washing up like so
many bleached bones on the shore, but etiolated, evaporating. Certainly none of
them are self-sustaining except the construction work which goes from slightly onerous
to entirely impossible (today on this fine autumn day it seems entirely impossible).
so anyway I'm trying not to do anything I'm supposed to be doing today construction
wise. which means I don't seem to be doing anything but puttering about. and thinking about
Hegel a bit but that not even in any sustained way. Here is an email I sent to JL. He had forwarded me an email about Hegel being a sublime hysteric (by way of
the way I'm reading The Puppet and the Dwarf by Zizek now.) This is the email I sent
in response:

thanks for forwarding john---an interesting take on hysteria vis a vis Hegel. the
only question I would have with it would be that from the pov of the Hegelian system,
are types of knowledge which are generated 'hysterically' mean the knowledge itself
is hysterical? and is that the same thing in some sense as delerious? I don't think
the question is as, um, hysterical as it might first appear. I take it to mean:
are there some types of knowledge which are not recuperable in the dialectic to
savoir absolut, that absolute knowledge to which everything must wind up. And of
course by making Hegel an 'hysteric' would be to claim I suppose that he comes from
a place OUTSIDE of that number crunching bad infinity --but would that vitiate the
dialectic thereby? and would that somehow vitiate (I'm not about to say negate)
the western/modern/christian/diactical enterprise thereby? That is, doesn knowledge
production in general become tainted or do we then enter a Deleuzian era in which
there is nothing BUT tainted, hysterical, delerious knowledge -- in other words
the end of classical (in the sense of Roman, Christian) knowledge and enter a regime
closer to what we would think of as, for lack of a better word at the moment, pagan
or occult or otherwise disreputable 'knowledge' --- in other words, the specific
over the General.

Or at least that's what active anti-Hegelians (including anti-Marxists and anti-continentals,
all of whom were 'infected' by the genealogy which includes Hegel) would have us
think. However it increasingly seems to be the case that Hegel winds up trumping
every card which can be played (and the operative word here is CAN be played)...
(good example here is Schreber in fact: loads of discourse around Schreber but in
a sense his words remain just as 'unreadable' now as they were when Freud recuperated
them for his theory of paranoia/psychosis ; those who hold Schreberian citations
as actual knowledge -- and there are those folks who are variously abducted Sauls
on the road to Damascus who are always among us -- still find no admittance (formal
admission anyway) into knowledge structures ... to do so would change the whole,
uh, dialectic of How Things Work.

The upper studio h.u.t. has collapsed. I've been expecting it to do so for some time. Improper sealing of the roof or rather not finishing it up. I've actually sort of been looking forward to it collapsing since I had grown tired of it. But, yes, I was disappointed for a brief moment. But then I went down to the lower studio and I was amazed by the look of the debris. (Actually, it hasn't quite collapsed completely the whole 30 feet or so. The fall started at the corner that woody fell through; the 6 x 6 post on that corner had fallen over…guess it wasn't planted deeply enough.)

At any rate it looks amazingly like a Coop Himmelblau bit of architecture from the rear. Sometimes apparently we have to start from ruins to get a good go at something. If I were to make a go of it. Maybe I'll take some photos and drop them here… I would love to go in there with some large board/steel/mesh/concrete and keep it going.

I've felt weighed down by tons of gravity all day today … in fact I don't feel as though I've done anything. The sun is terribly hot and yet a light coolness out of the sun. Beautiful weather dammit. I should be working on the house. Or I should be doing…something. Damn if I can figure out what though. At first I think I feel like sleeping but then I just lay there and watch tv. I need a project. I just feel totally lethargic, don't feel much stimulated by anything and certainly don't feel stimulated to produce anything whatsoever. I just feel completely dried up. Took a simulated nap earlier, ie, watched afternoon tv and semidozed. Didn't really make me feel any better. What to do what to do. I can't tell if there is too much to do and hence I feel paralyzed or something like the opposite.
It's like there is never an end to anything but never a beginning either. It's like being stuck in midair and forgetting how I got there and which way is back and which way is out. This writing could go on forever in this headless tailless vein neither backing up or inching forward much less zooming ahead or suffering catastrophic collapse into a pre-existing condition a condition that may be know as having a Beckett in the future as a characterization of life now, a sort of listlessness meaning I suppose that there is no sweve, boat-like listing to one side of the other, to give directionality, it all amounts to the same Sargassian float flaunting itself into a swerveless miasma (my brain is much now and I can't even what the Greek guy --Democritus? -- called that swerve, that necessity that was needed to get things going in the universe….clinamen, that's it). Yeah, I got no clinamen .

It takes so much damn energy to do anything and once it's done, just on the bare face of it, it hardly seems worthwhile except for some vague cultural capital that you might get from it and even after a while that seems like thin gruel. Let face it the only thing that keeps things going is some sort of innate energy, regardless of the worth of the event, regardless of anything' it's like we need to do stuff cause we need to do stuff. I mean, almost something that seems like a raw sexual overflow yes how very Freudian of me (for some reason I started thinking of the woman who invited me to read at a conference one time and I think was disappointed to find that I wasn't some 25 year old kid

oct 21
The older I get the more flummoxed and exasperated as well as wonder-struck I get, that things don't change; that is to say, things change but nothing seems to change fundamentally. If one looks back historically there are all these different periods where things seemed to look different even, clothing etc. much less probably attitudes etc. My ex-wife would always claim a uniformitarianism for any social phenomena, that is, that everything has always been the way it is now and I guess the implication that things would always be this way (and how is one to define 'this way'?). And certainly the implication that all humans are the same, with little difference that makes a difference betwen seses, races and individuals. Just one big gas bubble floating through time, the forces of evolution dead or transferred to tech. Get with the program, stretch out and relax, ain't nobody going nowhere.

Oct 28 Tuesday
"All the young are in danger of fairy kidnapping."
W. B. Yeats quoted in Strange and Secret People

He was sitting in a coffee shop in Philadelphia Mississippi drinking a latte, listening over the house system to his favorite Earth, Wind and Fire song (slow, bumping 'you will find/ peace of mind/if you look way down/in your heart and soul/ … that's the way / of the world/plant your flower / and you grow a pearl/ hearts of fire etc etc ').. any way he used to play it all the time in grad school.
There were probably a few more cognitively confusing things than sitting in the Coffee Bean in Phil., MS but for the moment those other cognitive dissonances escaped him.
He had brought his mother yesterday to his birthplace to repair the old house. It had been over a year since he had been here and since the reader had been subjected to morose twirlings in place, mediations on the nature of his childhood and the gaps therein. Or maybe even worse, the fullnesses therein. Nothing had changed, which he both appreciated and fretted about, some worry that the constant collisions between childhood and the here and now somehow sucked something out of him, devaluing who he was, who he had tried to become, but those sacred groves of childhood showing all to be dust, futile striving.

Still the same somewhat dumpy folks listening to the local tv channels; there was nothing but deep southern accents and heavyset middle aged men and women. It came as something of a shock to him; In Atlanta you almost never heard a true southern accent . For some reason it made him think of his various friends traveling at that moment or planning to travel to some place over seas or across the country, searching for some sort of unexpected alien joy. But the odd thing was that he was in a place that was as familiar to him as Stephen Daedalus's Dublin and yet in some respects it was just as foreign to him as Dublin would be, and in a way that was very different to calibrate and make sense of … it was the confusion and murkiness of one's own self of course, that bit of dark glass that one could never make sufficiently clear.

Two young girls drift in, chatting… very little trace of accent. Maybe the young in general were becoming accentless though the good graces of continual immersion in television and movies. Were they becoming accentless in other ways also? Perhaps a certain temporal spacing was a good thing. As regards 'experience' anyway. The problem is, that seemed like a slippery slope, with a sludge pit of experience and despair at the bottom and featurelessness, 'happiness', or contentedness, or whatever at the luminous top, the heaven and hell rap, with hell winning out, interest wise.
He supposed that if you lived, moved back to, such a homeplace, a new grave yard would once again become just a field of granite and not an empty field where he crashed a gas-powered model plane he built at the age of 15, or a street corner where he remembered old Miss Fox, his fifth grade teacher stopping and talking to he and his mother on a windy october Saturday would once again just become a street corner. But the Steve's On the Square clothing store would never revert to the Woolworth's where he bough gold fish in the back; the courthouse across from his window seat, would never have the little library where he used to get god and silver stars in the summer reading program.

When he got in on Mondy, he walked up the slight hill, past the windbreak of overgrown shrubs, small trees and wildflowers to the old family house of his father, built in something like 1946. It had remained empty these many years since the death of the last grandparent, Mama C. and had been sealed and locked up, to remain exactly the same as he had always remembered it, 40, even 50 years ago, with every square inch of the yard having memories coniunously blossoming forth as he walked the small lot. The decayed changelessness was about to change. The church next door had bought the property and apparently had it slated for demolition. Preparatory to that they had cut down all the trees and shrubs. Paradoxically it made remembrance even sharper for now he could better visualize the old barn where he stepped on rusty nails every summer and where king snakes slumbered langorously until disturbed, where the catalpa tree awaited its yearly horde of worms, soon to be picked for fishing.

Every inch of the yard had memories stuck to it and as bittersweet and melancholic as only the figments of one's youth could produce. It made no sense to recount any of tehm really. It was the tonality of such that mattered he knew, and not the content -- no that wasn't exactly true. What mattered to HIM was the exactitude of the memories, the sweetness of the Ellis Theater, now empty, used by a home-grown occasional theatrical troop (although the sign out front was the same as when he used to go to triple feature matinees on Saturdays. It was to everyone ELSE that none of this mattered, a reversed solipsism maybe.

But it's true, he felt like he could go on recounting the past, sleepwalking with ghosts forever, even to the point of somehow joining their cavalcade, gradually seeping backward into the past THAT was the real and true danger he felt.

Nothing but stroking that very distance between now and then, bequeathed to him because things had remained so unchanged here and because he had not maintained any contacts here other than relatives. As regards who he thought he was, the place was as alien as the surface of Mars. And sitting here, bereft of any of the accoutrements that made him who he was now, he realized how much one is constituted by external events -- the extimate as perhaps Lacan would say.

He had walked up to the coffee shop carrying a copy of 'Tool-Being', an examination of Heidegger's approach to technology (let's just leave it at that for now) and a book call 'Strange and Secret People', on the history of fairies -- or at least the relationship of the Victorians to that history. As far as he knew, but he must be wrong about this, nobody in the town read. And until the Wal-mart was put in and killed the little downtown, there was no bookstore, other than cheap romances and inspiration Christian stuff in the drug store. Reading was for getting through school and that was then that.
But he knew there must be something missing from his picture. Two tables down in thecoffee shop a 13 year old boy is telling his mother about gases under pressure. The area was like a giant incubator. And then those dandelion heads turned ripe and drifted off mostly. Why come back?
He realized he liked the alienation effect, it seemed to have some sort of fecundity for him, if nothing else, escape. He BELONGED out on a limb, it was the only place where anything mattered. (we can also call it the 'liminal'.) Life threatened to become too, too----comfortable was not quite the right word, since comfort was a slippery concept --weren't they all? -- but too close to the grindstone maybe, with no possibility for escape, no distraction….
A certain J.W. came by to do some repairs on the roof. He was fifty six, year older than me but the difference couldn't have been more stark than if he or me, one of us, had been a changeling, substituted for a real human in the cradle by a strange and secret folk. J.W. is a pentecostal preacher also. I think for many of my friends he would be a frightening specter in his native environment.
He loved to climb up on the roof and sit on the ridge, looking down on the scene of the past, continuous replays, baseball cards on the spokes of a bike, sluttering by…..
I'm the only person in the coffee shop. No lap tops. No other readers. Darkness approaches, literally, over the rooftops with on-coming clouds and dusk.
"If a changeling were substituted for a kidnapping victim, the problems of the substitute's anarchic and inhuman nature had to be considered, but there was still hope that the process might be reversed."
"Even if they were returned, however, they were never the same again."

Strange and Secret Peoples
The very things that make it superb for small family life here, are, unfortunately, the things that he now despised, if he wish to be true to his own thought.

Out the window, above the courthouse, beautiful sunset, pink, blue, gray striated clouds. A yound mother and her young daughter come in, presumably after work and day care?.

After his family had moved to the City, they would still come back at every vacation and even more often if possible. He would gather with his cousins on such occasions and cruise at night from one end of the town to the other, from the Frosty Mug on highway 16 to the drive in out in Williamsville, neither now standing. Still, apparently, at this late date, a worthwhile pursuit in small towns all over, the endless revving and rehearsing of teenaged engines straining for release. I guess most of that release would wind up in a backseat and then family chores. Is that still the way it worked in small towns?
"We have seen repeatedly that hammer-being and bridge-being withdraw behind every silhouette of hammer and bridge that has ever emerged into our awareness. Are we now to think that even the lowliest tools conceal themselves from view in this way, while BEING ITSELF is open at a glance to anyone undergoing a flash of resoluteness or boredom?"
He always associated being here with moving around, being on the go. In the summer he roamed continuously.. he still felt the need to around the area of the town square everyday. Some version of St. Vitus' dance…

Walking back from the coffee shop, he walks past his father's grave. It's still an indescribable feeling but, in some way, comforting. It's easy to see why many archaic and non-western peoples kept their beloved -- and feared -- dead so close.

"To bring the hammer to light is not to negate it,"


Stopped by this afternoon to visit with uncle j and aunt l. Think 'In the heat of the Night' not Andy of Mayberry. The clan in Phil. Is dying out, soing their grip, their memories, their feuds. At this late date He appreciated it all, after it was all almost over. Nevertheless, when visiting Daddy C's old house he was struck (as almost always he thought puzzelingly) by enormous amounts of grief and loss. After all, we only have One Life To Live and there doesn really seem to be any changing out one life for another, except to become some simulacrum of one's self, living an imitation of life -- which perhaps was all there was anyway! But whatever. We all came here, as far as he knew, at one spot and time. And, really, who knows what that means exactly.
"Whereas in the disturbance of usuage, equipment alone loses its purposiveness and thus becomes 'unemployable,' anxiety, on the contrary, brings about the collapse of all significance in the familiar world."
He was back the next day at the cofeeeshop, watching two high school students drift in fromt eh school down the stree --the same schoole where he went as a child. In a way, he wished he could have stayed here longer, perhaps helpoing to leave aside some of that fororn anxiety of memoration. But perhaps it would only have been worse. No doubt the 'problem' didn't reside in any genius loci, a culmination of star and energies…he only knoew that he began to feel acutely his age (zeitgeist included) and his youth with the only possible resolution the breakdown of the physical. But then again even that might not be sufficient. He believed in hauntings but he wasn't sure he believed in ghosts.

The problem always for him was some intimations of….soemthing else, some hidden depth forever withdrawing yet always seductive for all that (perhaps because of it.) maybe it was just the difference, the temporal differentiation of things, held taut by invisible memoration. And that difference was true not just for not, here, but for everywhere.



robert cheatham