Saturday, March 06, 2004

Lyn Hejinian, in "Continuing Against Closure", writes (my comments follow):

      Reality precedes us. It was here before we were and it will be here after we are gone.
      Although reality, by and large, doesn’t reciprocate our interest in it, our interest in it is very great — it being, after all, all that we have.
      Of course. What reality includes is all that there is. Can we say, then, that reality exhibits closure? that reality is self-contained?
      Like any biologist, we have to answer in the affirmative: “No.”
      It is the fate of logic to undo closure infinitely.
      Fate produces chances. As a result, we are faced with choices. Exercising them leaves containment (including the inner sanctum of romantic introspection) in ruins.
      If one equates fate with what happens, or even with all that happens, one can’t help but realize that one has an improviser’s experience of it.
      Improvisation has to do with being in time. And it has to do with taking one’s chances.
      In fact, one can’t take a chance outside of time; the whole concept of chance puts one inside a temporal framework. Improvisation consists of taking chances, i.e., entering the moment in relation to it — it’s about getting in time, being with it.
      To enter a moment in relation to it, one has to enter it with something. One is having a time with something — something one is in time with.
      That something is something that has come to be, it has occurred. Improvisation begins at the moment when something has just happened, which is to say, it doesn’t begin at the beginning. Nonetheless, it is always involved with the process of beginning — that is, of setting things in motion.
      My intention here is to link fate with incipience, or to suffuse the limiting condition known as fate with the limiting condition known as beginning in such a way as to allow the limits to cancel each other.
      We witness sequiturs without transition and non-sequiturs with them.
      Logic inserts itself everywhere and narrative follows as fast as it can though often it can’t keep up with events since they advance in leaps that leave logicians behind.


Vagabond Couplets

The talk didn't begin with me;
it is all I have.

I don't know nothing else other than what I know;
the door is always ajar.

The double negative is an affirmative;
logic makes any thing possible.

If fate, then chance;
if chance, then choice.

My choice defies containment;
My choices are improvisations.

I improvise in time;
I steal chances.

For my choice to be a chance,
I have to take, at some time, a chance.

It isn't: Take a Chance on Me;
It is: Take with me a chance.

I only ever took chances;
I am never only about to take a chance.

Fate is always ready to be beginning;
Beginnings always begin regardless.

Time waits for no poet.


Hejinian's article is knee-deep in Aristotelian ethics--all sequitors, the following: life itself, the city, friends, the body, circumstances, equipment. A problem with this kind of Happiness is that you must have the best city, the healthiest body, the most virtuous friends who look and think like you, wealth and magnanimity, no legal hassles, and all the right moves. IT ain't achievable for the masses. Only for a few.

Consequently, I think it should stick in the craw all of this "TAKE" chances business. Making (appropriate) choices out of the chances we take that fate offers begs the question of power and the power to make, take, offer and/or accept.

Hejinian's ethics sounds like the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" variety. Though, I must admit that isn't the explicit purpose for writing the piece--that much is clear--the problem lingers beneath the surface of the rhetoric. If this is a false inferrence, then needed is much more concrete and visible discussion illustrating just how a person is supposed to attain a solid social position to continue against closure if the doors presented are always already closed. I am in favor of taking a hatchet to the door not in favor of working choice, chance and fate through logic and right reason.

If a fellow is disposed to TAKE a chance, then is a chance supposedly there to be taken? No. Not necessarily.

The circumstances of a fellow's position in the community, I'll use American Society--race, gender, class, education, geography, etc--restrict the potential or degree to which a limit can be reached. Radically linking fate with incipience, limiting it to an always acknowledgable beginning, to a linguistic marker more than an actual presence that bodily limits a person, is a rhetorical gesture that works only for people who have overcome a supposed, concretely defined fate.

I wasn't supposed to live through the year because of my physical ailment, yet I am living and it is two years since the declaration of my fate.

compared to:

He walked across the street and was killed instantly when a rock fell from the sky and crushed his skull.

The incipience of fate is a proposition limited to a specific view of history...or, of things having happened at some time and in a particular manner. In the first example, the survivor can claim to have made choices concerning treatment of his ailment that ultimately led to a liberation from illness, a happiness of sorts, and the chance to live a fuller, more complete life. The man in the second example is just shit out of luck in spite of his choice to cross the street.

I use these examples, not because I think they are the best, but because they plainly show the fault of using intention to define a subject's relationship to choice, chance and fate in time.

Intention may be ideologically representable as a series of subsequent and always occuring moments of here and now that concresce at such a rapid rate we can never notice an end to beginning; nevertheless, folks punch the clock and measure days in moments contrasting concrete and abstract demands on their labor. What we have in common, as a folk, is a confrontation, not with fate, but with a schedule that demands a specific, rational response to circumstance and opportunity. Folks must "earn a living" in order to live. This is not a choice nor a chance nor fate but a real relationship to our individual existence. In other words, it is a non-ideological claim.

Nothing romantic here
Nothing happy now

Happiness in contemplation
not my words

Not the body
Not the education
Not the city
Not the market
Not the gender
Not the color
Not the family
Not the account

(two moments in idealist time)
The individual
The individual
The here and now
The individual
The individual
The here and now
The individual
The individual

(two moments in real time)
at this time
at this time

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