The Fist of Thought (ars poetica)

“How are we to distinguish our intellectual or moral mechanisms unless we are temporarily deprived of them? It must be the consolation of those who experience death in small doses this way that they are the only ones who know anything about how life is made.” (Jacques Riviere)

against all better judgment, and i am sure that there is far better than mine, i am going to start with the following suggestion, namely that it is impossible to write, there being nothing to write and no one to write it, there is neither a text nor an origin for a text, neither dictate nor scribe — so what is there? — there appears to be movement, the shuffle known as thought — as well there appears to be stillness, the false edifice of repose when wearied we erect a sham to front for chaos — perhaps these are merely appearances, however false, yet our perception is all that we have; how we perceive that out there, as well as our perception of how we react here — no, i won’t go so far as to say “in here”, bad enough that i succumbed to implying a separation, a distance, between object and perception, when awareness is so inherent within the object’s very existence and the ability to distinguish is perhaps the sole progenitor of dichotomy and contradiction — yet, if perceptions, however contradictory, are all we have then how are we to resolve them, or unable to resolve them how are we to face them, how deal with them, where find the courage, the stability of mind, when confronted by mutual exclusion — “neither a text nor an origin for a text” — are we not denied such a suggestion by the seeming existence of not only the texts of others but also by those we recognize as having burst from our own hand — (i prefer this more physical notion of the hand as being the source of the text as opposed to the intellect, psyche or whatever, the issue seems abstract and confused enough that there is no need to further complicate matters with such abstract hinderings — but perhaps this too will itself result in hindering our line of investigation; best to just let the question remain open as all doubt should be respected and left to itself, unfulfilled and insoluble; the very essence of doubt being its invulnerability — ) so these texts, these utterances, these apparent things, these which we regard and judge, honour or disdain, what are we to do with them? or is this question itself irrelevant? the damage being already done by simply acknowledging their existence — upon mere recognition have we not reached a point of no return, being forced to our knees by the burden of knowing, the simple act of forgetting imperative for the assimilation of the over-abundance of information fed to us by the world at large, the bulk of it shut out by the blinkers, so necessary if we are to keep our balance, as fragile as that equilibrium can be — so here we are teetering, precariously, between an extreme of existence and an equally forbidding extreme of non-existence — and, yes, i do think that we are scared shitless of truly discovering that we do exist — as long as our existence, however proud it might be, is merely an implication we are absolved of any responsibility, the fundamental guilt of our actions and ignorance is rendered ineffectual, but if we find some sort of solidity, in replace of the hollow, suddenly it’s an entirely different story and no matter how small a grain we feel ourselves to be, no matter how ineffectual, the gravity of the situation would be crushing, the weight, however slight, unbearable, until we find ourselves crawling, longing to cease — a futile desire to be sure, yet the sole gesture to be made is that which leans one back towards that void from which we imagine we have come, and so we find ourselves in a state of wobbling, wavering between being and whatever nether when one is not — all this from an utterance or a text, and not necessarily our own, but perhaps that of another — and what of the difficulty, perhaps the impossibility, of separating the word from the body, the person whose gullet has sprung it, for somehow these texts seem like people too don’t they? jabbering, stony-eyed, smiling, tight-fisted, crude, elegant, proud or broken, sometimes made love to, other times forgotten, in short all that which we recognize with a vain sympathy — remember that the root of the word “compassion” is the latin wordpassio meaning suffering, mutual suffering — from out of this comes our humanity, if it can be said that we possess any such noble sentiment and a quick gander about would seem to contradict any such righteous claim, instead we see the immobility wrought by fear, the pitiful gestures of a beggar blind amidst the chaotic swirl of the so-called visible world — whatever the brutality of the facts, when reading the text, when confronted by the text, it is from this, this com-passion, this mutual suffering, the anxiety of both eye and text, our gaze apprehensive and fleeting encountering the seemingly still word, the syllables once immortal and stale now suddenly vibrant with our strain and desire to know, from this arises whatever feeble understanding we might attain — yet this stillness, the solidity of the word, especially the printed word, machined and precise, is only due to the quickness of our glance — our vision is vague and imprecise enrapt as it is in its search for meaning, its impatience to understand, to achieve the quietude of knowing, the superiority procured through comprehension — but let the eye wander, let it behold the word, the text, the page, with the calm indifference with which it envelopes a sunset or a stone, then we begin to notice that the text flutters and trembles, however slight, from the anguish of the word bled into the page — not merely a word but word after word forced to render meaning, bound by diction and like the sun quivering upon the horizon, all becomes less sure, more uncertain, hovering before a twilight, a darkness we fear as death itself — and with this doubt, this dread of ignorance, comes the humility, the sympathy which surpasses mere knowledge — from the awareness of the pitiless mortality suffered by all that is thrust into existence comes understanding, frail, useless and however fleeting such understanding may be, still it is all the respite we have, the sole tenderness granted within the ruthless brutality of becoming

i remember looking out over the rooftops, the flat bitter dryness of the city as it appears in early summer, the city being paris, thinking of this i can feel the barrenness, the hollow, what some might call the betrayal, which is prevalent in my writings, perhaps the visuals as well, but is this vacancy such that is betrayal? is it not rather the space from which the text is born, from which the utterings arise, not to be fulfilled, the word and syllable as empty as the one who casts them from their gullet — here we may have discovered something of the fallacy of criticism, the myth of substance, of the weight of saying — critics, editors give substance to that which is arid — is it possible to edit, to criticize, with the lightness, the empty-headedness, with which we write, move and breath, with the dull stupor in which we make love or rather fuck — from where the fear to use words, the power given to the vowel and consonant to create such anxiety, such terror as that which can bring one to kill — is it in the word or in the utterer of the word, the one who stutters, the trembling flesh which cannot help but rasp, which so ignorantly unburdens itself with the spew and vomit of thought yet we still admire so; still envy the stillborn, find beauty in the carcass — and what of the reader? are they given no credit? like a dog on a leash being trained they are jerked this way and that, taught to trot alongside, to sit when told, stay put, and only come when called, all this for a pat on the head and the promise of a bone made of ash and refuse — why do you think dogs accept such pathetic circumstances? — perhaps by solving this we can discover what it is in our own natures which causes us to humiliate ourselves before the text — but this is unfair settling on one particular attitude and a not so pleasant one at that, yet one we find ourselves succumbing to far too often and how often we desire to be the one holding the leash — yet true education is a sharing, a joy born of mutual discovery — i should hope we are not out to train one another, to ignorantly jerk on one another’s leash but that we strive for something more, something honest and hard won — so what happens when we approach the text on this more human level, when we strip it of its divinity, of its prophetic genius, when we no longer hold that it is the bearer of the Answer, but merely another utterance of the wounded — is it not that perhaps then some value is granted the act of reading, with both text and reader engaged, forgotten in the absence of discovery, the forgetting which levels the petty vanity of our intellect and plunges us into the chaotic swirl of revelation, the pulse and thunder of becoming, the transformation as we attempt, however futile, to come to grips with that which grinds against the bones of thought, the skeletal memory — neti, neti: the extreme negation not out of anger or pride, the vain denunciations of the critic, the weak and the wounded; not these but the “not this, not this” of the utter poverty of existence, what might be called “the dupe of being” — and from this, this desert we liken to ourselves, what is brought forth is born of wonder its very existence so incongruous with the harshness of its surroundings, that which appears so frail, so timid, yet asserts such glory within the barren scape mistakenly thought of as ourself — is this enough to justify the monotony of our days, the bulk of sufferance and angst which is born about? — for there is a monotony from which is born, like that of the tracings and retracings of a spider weaving its web, and there is the monotony which destroys, the slow wearing away, the sandpaper of time, the tedious ravage from which nothing escapes as day follows day and the brute mechanisms of life twist and grind — do you not wonder what might be if the doubt gets the upperhand? days without certainty, not only sleeping with death but wide-eyed staring the son-of-a-bitch in the face, eyeball to bloodshot eyeball — and rather than running away from it, as we do by killing and suppression, by forcing our views upon those around us, by the desire to create in our own image, instead of running away rather to embrace and kiss the cunt of existence full on the lips — can we find such courage, can our words be born of such a banal action as the desire to snuff the very dichotomy from which they are born, from which we are born — you know at times i think of the tremendous amount of beauty in this world and how useless it all really is yet, some days, for me it’s enough — or it might be that beauty is our inoculation against truth, the psyche’s way of incapacitating the terror of the situation as it is and granting it an air of grace which in reality it does not have — but then perhaps i am frightfully more cynical than i already imagine myself to be — this brings me to wonder whether literature, or any art for that matter, is really nothing more than the facade of despair — as if naming were some alchemical act of resurrection, the flow of word and thought some magical incantation which begins the ash to stir — perhaps i have expected too much, demanded more than i have a right too — enough that i have been given, woe if i should ask to keep as well — it is difficult indeed, if not impossible, to imagine a life silent — mute existence is denied us yet our frailty is such that we cannot bear the burden of having spoken, and eloquently at that — how can we possibly defend ourselves when confronted by the blatant inanity of believing it is at all possible to communicate, let alone by the insipid word — gazing across the chasm which exists between one person and another we come to realize that any form of contact – verbal, physical, spiritual – is out of the question, but we can catch a glimpse of fear in the other’s eyes and it is this which must suffice to comfort us, the knowledge that we are not alone, as we haul ass and fling ourselves, hard, from the precipice — no, the act of writing is not worth discussing, instead let us dwell on this desperation which brings us to the point of taking up pen or wagging the tongue — i would like to think that words could bear the weight of understanding, assume meaning and define that which is undefinable, the futility and exasperation, the shudders of joy as well as those of pain within the shapeless destiny of memory; but, for me, the words seem rent from the very rift itself — an echo is not a reply, yet perhaps we hear it differently as its weight is absorbed by space and time — it seems it is a question of how far we are willing to inquire ? knowledge at its furthest extreme is but a recognition of ignorance — as i see it all art points towards whatever lies beyond it, that which it cannot grasp, like casting light upon a shadow