On Liminalities: The Hope From Within The Fire

How many kinds of in-betweens are there? How many in-betweens are habitable? How many levels of habitability are available to us? Made available.

I live in the East Bay. On the 12, or the 6, the 18 and the 52 or the 51B. They’re all numbers and lines, not categories. You can be coming or going, you can not know which, and yet you’re still there, at the intersection of multiform liminalities.

There is a schedule, I suppose. It isn’t a myth— more of a “fuzzy set,” a for-the-most-part or a you-get-the-idea— a drift or a gist. The liminality of not knowing the nature of the whats you’re between is more malleable than the words we give things like the people, places, or things we mark as limits. There is only a suggestion of mathematics, or: mathematics can only suggest the pure concept with which to articulate our various and sundry in-betweenesses. In so doing it deflates the pure concept not as useful or concrete but as crystalline, economic, a tool. Tool-like at most, maybe.

Lines and numbers. Signifiers, one to carry us over the other, to assure us that we’re here, or will be, or were, wherever those those things were. Are?

“I’ll be there ASAP,” I say, because possibility was what rendered that thereness possible in the first place, though I didn’t really know it: possible is the only way I’m able to be anywhere.

But that doesn’t make possibility a misnomer or a redundancy (the truth is something like the opposite, really), just that existing is only articulable as a tautological feedback loop of sorts: boring, maybe; banal, often; “duh,” mostly.

But I am on fire with the having been there. Perhaps reality wasn’t prepared for the scourge of our memory, history for the way we touch it, the world for what we can do with sex, what we can hold deep in our bodies, share with other bodies. I’d like to think that our erotic engagement with it at the very least ruffles the feathers of the world, but in its deepest sense my erotic engagement with the world doesn’t give a fuck. It, too, is a feedback loop of sorts: feeding itself on itself, burning-growing. Take that, world.

It’s in this sense, I think, that care comes not from an investment in the world, isn’t rooted in the world, doesn’t depend on the world. No, it bursts forth from the mad anti-physics of a fire that feeds and grows on itself, deep in our bellies. Additionally, I think the more we help each other let it, the more our madness will fight the world: push on it, nibble on it, dance on it, bite and scratch it, more verbs and, eventually— this is the hope from within the fire— replace it.

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23 Scenes From The Surface*

1.

Two men meet on the street; they shake hands with their right hands, exchange a package with their left.  After a few words they depart.

duel

2.

The first time I saw it was the first time I spent the night.  It was surprisingly uniform in shape, like a small pink worm that ran from the center of her sternum, to just below her clavicle before cutting a stark right-angled turn towards the indentation of soft flesh just down and to the left of her right shoulder.

3.

I find great pleasure in placing my contact lenses in their fancy bubbly cleaning apparatus.  My eyes ache for both the cool of the lenses in the morning and the gentle sliding off of them in the evening.  My soul is soothed at the visage and the thought of those tiny bubbles silently scrubbing their surfaces for six straight and silent hours, in the dark, next to the sink, while I sleep.

4.

Whether or not to insert a hyphen, whether or not to call it a dash, whether or not to capitalize, whether or not it is the time or the place for propriety.  These are the inane and mundane preoccupations of a writer with highfalutin aspirations (see: too big for his britches).  He had seen Dostoevsky use the term highfalutin, so had decided it was acceptable; he had realized at the time of remembering that he had seen Dostoevsky use the term highfalutin that it had been a translation; he had only realized that the two-worded spelling was the alternative to the one-worded variety when he finally looked it up on the internet.

5.

“There were two of them, of course – you can’t have a duel with only one fellow… well I suppose you could have a duel of sorts with three or more, but not in the, you know, in the formal, traditionally cultural practice of dew-ullz.  Anyway they were wearing tights and blouses and everything.  Their hair was long, greasy and stringy and their goatees were far too perfectly trimmed.  They were best friends or something and one had been engaged to this beautiful woman who the other had fallen in love with and when the first one found out he started the fight and, well, yeah anyway, the guy – the one who’d been engaged before his lady fell in love with his best friend – the guy ran the other guy through with his rapier or cutlass or whatever.  It was actually really sad, when the fellow realized what he’d done. Horrifying, actually.”

* From the archives, slightly revised, and toward the end of some sort of experiment in hermeneutics / participation in the (muffled?) conversation or polemic surrounding just what it is we do, or should do, when “reading” texts.

Working Definition(s)*: Politics, Ethics, Power

The signifier is not enough.

POLITICS = Ethics + Power. Or, if you like, Power + Ethics = Politics.

Ethics is that field of activity that is delineated by the “should.” It has to do with the future. It has to do with *other* people. What we should do to get to a form of life that is better than this one.

Don’t push my buttons.

Power has to do with relations between people and/or things. It is characterized by a differential: one has more than the other. It is made known by the acts and the effects of the acts that the former is able to deploy upon the other.

Politics is the field of activity in which every action that is carried out towards a form of life that is better than this one is unable to be carried out outside of the considerations and the realities of being enmeshed within a vast network of power relations.

Duh Factor: All ethical acts are political acts. There is no such thing as a *merely* ethical act.

Future: How much does strategy have to do with the (*merely*) ethical (And how do we avoid some sort of gross pragmatic utilitarianism?)?

In order to make a simple ethical decision, must I appeal to the broadest commonalities of my constituency?

* Something “that is chosen for an occasion and may not fully conform with established or authoritative definitions,” or as “Equipment[:] conceptual in design and formulation, []pragmatic in use. Defined abstractly, equipment is a set of truth claims, affects, and ethical orientations, designed and composed into a practice. Equipment, which has historically taken different forms, enables practical responses to changing conditions brought about by specific problems, events, and general reconfigurations.”

 

Mirror in the Mirror

Second only to the question “Batman or Superman?,” I like to ask people what they think the most beautiful thing in the world is. Most people, I think, find both of these questions unsettling.

The word “thing,” of course, is a sort of placeholder for the word “object,” or something like it. I’m continually delighted by the fact that my answer to the second question is this song, because the words “thing” and “object” are odd designations for something that wants to defy the sort of objectness that the word “thing” wants to impose (a song is less spatial, more thoroughly temporal insofar as it is fleeting, it fleets, slips away, is connected more to the concept of “event,” etc.).

Similarly, I’m fascinated by my reticence to call it a song- not out of some reverence or desire to elevate my most beautiful thing to something sacred or divine, but because this word also seems not to be the best one for it. It seems to me that “songs” like this are most often referred to as “compositions,” and I’m happy again because I think it’s wonderful that what we call this thing when we refer to it foregrounds its very creation, or the fact that it is created in a certain manner: it’s put together, assembled, crafted as a sort of assemblage of many things, but is, by its very nature, impossible to grasp. Especially this one, which is so quiet that I can’t even really hear it as I sit in this busy coffee shop.

Equal to the Moment

True literary activity cannot aspire to take place within a literary framework… it must nurture the inconspicuous forms that better fit its influence in active communities than does the pretentious, universal gesture of the book- in leaflets, brochures, articles, and placards. Only this prompt language shows itself actively equal to the moment.

– from Walter Benjamin’s One-Way Street (via Harper’s)