Friday, May 12, 2006

Always Happening, Never Happened

Always Happening, Never Happened

“It was . . . sweet.”

It wasn’t that he couldn’t think of any other words to describe what had happened, occurred, what she’d done. He was like a thesaurus in most cases, capable of proliferating words until ears ached or eyes strained. The verbiage he could’ve spilled in describing that moment, that shared moment, that point at which their perilous gap had been timidly closed, would have been enormous indeed were it not for the fact that the entire exercise would’ve hidden more than it exposed, obscured more than it revealed, destroyed more than it created. What had transpired, no single word could capture, and that was the point. And if no single word, then no armada of words from a thousand languages could succeed in a mission doomed to failure. She’d launched them, but never would they land.

It was his fate to never be able to recapitulate the event with any sort of personal satisfaction, but such was the fate of any who would attempt to frame, capture, and kill that which is so purely an action, so perfectly sublime. It was forever burnt into his memory, etched onto stone, like molten rock having cooled, but it would never be static, forever happening, never happened, always white hot. It was an image, living and dynamic, and had no cognitive expression, no discursive modality. It was beyond the pale. It was metaphor made flesh. It was cause for everything, but reason for none.


2 + 2 = 5

“In what world does this happen?”

At some point there had been a miscommunication. Well, no … not miscommunication, more like … total nerve fry. At some point there must have been a blackout, a total loss of consciousness. Several times perhaps. That’s the only way you can explain waking up one day with two contradictory sets of beliefs and desires. One day you’re fine, you’re coherent, you make sense. The next day its as if there’s an extra person living in your head, like you’ve been living two lives and you didn’t notice till now.

He had no idea what world this was. Leibniz was of no help to him here. He found Arouet laughing at him, pointing out the folly of his wishes, but now the playful philosophe, outflanking both the German and the austere Jean-Jacques, showed him how in this world it is best not to be serious lest you get caught with your car in park. All assumptions had been overturned, all axioms left invalidated, all premises shown as question-begging. Reason had fled along with his jacket. When everything is turned upside-down, there is only one thing left to do:


From Solitude to Loneliness

“Where are you going?”

Sometimes he didn’t know why he bothered. Well, he did know. It was just that—it never seemed real, it always seemed … forced. But even so, he always ended up alone. Solitude isn’t something that happens very much anymore. We’re surrounded by connections to people, cars that get us places, cell phones to call friends while hanging out with other friends, ICQ to type to people while talking to other people about which way you want to go to get to still more people. They say people are losing religion in the modern age because belief in God is irrational or incoherent or stupid or whatever. That’s not why people don’t go to church anymore. They don’t go because you can’t pray while text messaging. Whitehead said that religion is what we do with our aloneness, but if we are never alone, if you are always with other people, how can you get religion?

The irony of modernity is that we are never alone, but more and more we are lonely. We have more connections to people, but they have no depth. We end up being more alone with more people. The one thing he hadn’t had for a long time was solitude. He’d always enjoyed his solitude, but for a long time he wasn’t allowed. Then when he was allowed, it fled again and was replaced by a profound loneliness, a deep anxiety that happens late at night two inches away from another.



She had used him.---------------/-------------------He had used her.

It didn’t make any difference at this point, time having passed by on its way forward and the effects having set themselves in stone,
but he felt as though he was----/----but she felt as though she was
being excoriated and denounced for something, some action,
he didn’t do. It’s the worst-----/--------she didn't do. It's the worst
feeling in the world to be tagged with something that is so completely and utterly beyond your control. That's what had happened, and what other description could there be? But
part of playing the game is that/--it really ticked her off this time.
sometimes you have to bite the/-Over and over again it happened.
bullet. But she should know----/He had been so nice, so sweet, and
better; this pill was too bitter--/-and now it all comes out, it all was
to swallow.------------------------/-----------------------------worthless.

If you reflect too long, become ironic, lose your own perspective for too long, you begin to lose control of your feelings. Maybe not control, but the feelings themselves begin to recede and vanish.
He’d always thought anger a----/-----------Her own anger had been
poor emotion, one that failed in/-------displaced for too long by an
anything constructive. It was--/---emotional impotence, a strange
divisive and cut too much of---/--helplessness that had festered in
the heart, leaving a cavity.----/-----the voided cavity in her heart.
And it was the heart that was ailing, the heart that demanded the most help, the most healing. A strange happening in the dark.
Anger has its moments, but----/------Anger was a friend to her, an
now anger certainly wasn’t----/explosive shock to the system, be
something he could afford, not/--it hers or someone else's. When
with her, not with the way she/she thought about him, she became
was right now. This was all----/-angry, but she wasn't certain why.
unfair, but he wasn’t quite----/---But this was all clearly unfair and
clear on who it was more-----/she certainly didn't want any part of
unfair to. One thing he was---/--it. The more she thought about it,
adamant about though, she--/------the more it burned her up. She
wasn’t a surrogate, Goddamnit.



He knew they couldn't be together.

He wasn’t stupid. He was very well grounded, aware, and self-conscious. His instincts weren’t typically too far off the mark, though he rarely listened to them, and his instincts told him to run, get away, blot the whole thing out of his mind. He could do that, he was good at that. He had always taken Nietzsche to heart and had often used self-conditioning as a sedative to the ill-advised. But Nietzsche had also warned that such Freudian sublimation could come back and haunt you in a perverted, skeksified form. Pseudo-Dionysus is an awful bitch to have sneaking up behind you, bubbling just beneath the surface so that, by the time you notice her, it’s over.

What did him in was boredom, a cold knowingness that ran through his life. He knew where he was going, he knew how he was going to get there, he took everything in stride. Everything simply became shrift for his mill. Emotion, passion, the black horse of Id, had fled and been replaced by a disciplinatrix, someone who demanded his desires and directed his attention. He wasn’t inspired by anything anymore, but he was too young to not be inspired by anything. The meaning of life is not inspiring. Inspiration is the journey towards that meaning. Once you know it, the game is over, you can sit back and relax. Except youth is the exact opposite of relaxation and relaxation is the exact opposite of desire. Without inspiration there is no desire and no desire means no passion which means no purposeful action: there is only inertia. There is no push and pull beyond the gates of knowingness, and youth notoriously cannot sit still. So rise the bitch did rise, and welcome her with open arms did he.


Therapy of Desire

There was nothing left for him here.

A twitching eye was a sure sign of stress. That and his hand wouldn’t stop shaking. Granted, a lot of that probably had to do with the coffee. Twenty ounces is a lot for one hour. But he had to stay awake…. He’d lost some weight, but that didn’t concern him. He couldn’t see through the saltwater hemorrhaging from his eyes, but again, that isn’t what phased him. What worried him was that he was going insane.

Not insane—mad. Insanity is something they lock you away in an asylum for. It’s when the world you are living in doesn’t match up with the world that everyone else is living in. Madness, on the other hand, is something that you are driven to. Unlike insanity, you don’t just silently drift into madness. You explode into it, an intense, slavering growl that reverberates straight through you. Etymologically, insanity is simply the inverse of sanity, but madness—it bespeaks dispossession. When you go mad, you are completely conscious of your madness, but there is nothing you can do about it. Your cognitive functions are not yours to control anymore. All you seek is an end to the pain because only pain can drive you mad. A simple disagreement about the nature of reality doesn’t drive you mad. Only the pain of being caught jealous for no reason will drive you mad. You can only be jealous if you possess and when you are left standing with no heart at all, it kills not from loss of blood, but loss of feeling.



It’s weird, but events never make any sense when they first happen. When something is occurring, it just blows by you, you’re in the moment and its difficult to think, let alone hold on for the ride. It’s only later, while picking through the rubble, that you can piece together some semblance of a narrative, some story that doesn’t have random characters popping up every five seconds. But there are so many stories to tell, so many characters, and so, so much rubble. How to choose which one? What gets left in, what gets left out, what gets smudged?

When you have creative duties thrust upon you it’s sometimes difficult to make initial choices. So you try to use the widest brush with the largest canvas. You paint thin so as to make the most of your limited supplies. But later you realize that depth and detail is what you want, but thin is all you have, so you have to go back and paint over the gray with gray. When you change the prescription of your glasses, sometimes it isn’t to have more accurate vision, but better vision.


  1. Wow, Matt, It really took me a while to reinstate myself with an account. I think I tried at least ten user names until they took this one "pleaseletmeplay". I recently moved and have a new internet service so all of my prior info is obsolete.

    Ok, I finally read to the end. Is this all one piece? Certainly they are related. I love the annotation of Bitter/Sweet. Is this something you devised yourself? It visually describes the conflict. Kind of an ee cummings sort of thing.

    "He wasn’t inspired by anything anymore, but he was too young to not be inspired by anything. The meaning of life is not inspiring. Inspiration is the journey towards that meaning. Once you know it, the game is over, you can sit back and relax. Except youth is the exact opposite of relaxation and relaxation is the exact opposite of desire. Without inspiration there is no desire and no desire means no passion which means no purposeful action: there is only inertia. There is no push and pull beyond the gates of knowingness, and youth notoriously cannot sit still."

    Youth is a wonderful things, but it will not allow for all things to occur and one of those things is a relationship which is without danger. From the vantage point of someone who is fifty, I will say that male/female relationships always include the kind of ugly things you have described until the two people succumb and commit to the realtionship which often means the end of passion but is the beginning of something new.

    I think one of the things which is troublesome with our "modernity" is a sexual relationship without commitment. It confuses things and while it is understandable and no longer causes embarrassment, it can be the source of deep pain because the intimacy lacks significance.

    I will say that women tend to beat up on men. And I will say that women use men to beat up on not because of anything the man has done, but because she can get away with it. It takes girls a long time to get past this phase and there is always something which can be blown out of proportion just to get the fur flying. I think this is also a part of passion. Anger is a powerful emotion and is preferable to boredom.

    "Inspiration is the journey towards that meaning.Once you know it, the game is over, you can sit back and relax."

    But if you stay interested, you will never entirely grasp the meaning because there will always be some new thing to incorporate. Dynamic Quality?

    I'm sorry that I commented too soon. I think what I wrote originally was probably pretty trite while what you wrote is anything but. I also hope that you do want comments. I have a "passion" for reading what people are writing. And I assume that people who are writing want to be read and to find out how they are being perceived.


    "schrift for the mill"
    was this intentional? I always have heard "grist"

  2. I'll say this up front about this piece: I'm loathe to really say anything about it at all. Unlike my pedantic philosophy pieces, about which I'll go on and on about, the type of creative piece that "Always Happening, Never Happened" is nearly the sole representative of makes me shy away from saying anything at all. Part of it is because I don't want to sound pretentious ("Oh, I was doing this really smart thing here, and over here I was doing this, etc."). Part of it is because, especially in this piece, it draws on really personal things. And part of it is because, unlike pedantic stuff where I have a specific, hopefully discernible point, there is no "point" to something like this. My attitude is, take what you want from it. Have fun interpreting it.

    But I will be more responsive then that.

    It is all one piece. I conceived of it (and, mind you, I wrote this some two years ago, though this is almost the first time anyone has read it) as seven related pieces, each with their own title, but all under the one title "Always Happening, Never Happened". The formatting scheme of "Bitter/Sweet" is, I guess, something I came up with myself. I'm not sure I ever saw it before, but I certainly don't consider it all that original. That particular section was by far the hardest to get on the blog because when I wrote it on Microsoft Word, the italicized parts ran straight across as you see them (but weren't italicized), but the "other" parts, sectioned into the left and right parts as you see them, were formatted as columns. It took me forever to do, but the whole thing was pretty smooth, reading one voice across, splintering into two voices/columns, and then coming back together again periodically. But my blog doesn't have columns, so I had to come up with some other formatting solution to get the effect of two seperate voices periodically speaking as one across. So that's why it looks the way it does. And it'll only look alright if one has their webbrowser set to medium text size.

    "Shrift for his mill" was intentional. It's a mixed metaphor, between "grist for the mill" and "short shrift".

    The other things you said I'm more hesitant to comment on because they're interpretational. But I liked them. Passion, significance, anger, DQ. Actually, what you said initially in your e-mail wasn't entirely off point to one of the things I draw from the piece. You said, roughly, that guys don't know how to express themselves. If you read some of my pedantic posts, I talk about expressibility and DQ. Though I know exactly what you're talking about when you say guys don't learn how to express themselves, I take the larger point to be the universal difficulty of expressibility. When we are at the forefront of our known experience, we don't know how to procede or handle it. There's no wisdom in the area that can help us because what we are experiencing is brand new. And that's why love and God will always be a stuttering experience. They both exist just past the current limits of our language, so whenever we try and talk about them we'll be grasping in the dark, usually unsuccessfully. That's DQ pulling our language out further, to help us grasp better, but love and God will never be fully grasped by language because they are far too deeply personal and idiosyncratic. There are as many experiences of love and God as there are people to experience them, and reaching with a public language for something so intensely private is ... well, you're usually going to fail.

  3. "There are as many experiences of love and God as there are people to experience them, and reaching with a public language for something so intensely private is ... well, you're usually going to fail."

    yeah, but it's always worth the try.

  4. It's worse than that--you have to try, even knowing imminent failure. That's why poets are in so much agony over their poems, never happy with them. It's because they know their tropes are almost never good enough, never powerful enough to push language out far enough to get what they want.

  5. I like you, Matt Kundert. I like your audio. I like that you want to put your words onto audio. I don't regard you as a prick. You've got quite the quote on your blog -- about "We end up more alone with more people."


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