* Garden Variety

What does this say? What does anything said say? How to say what can only be said by me about me to you when you doubt that anyone can say anything . . . everything in the dialogue, but it’s not dialogue, it’s exchanged monologues, never-ending monologues exchanged, collated, shuffled, what else have we in the way of expressing how full of shit we are–it always seems to come to this, how full of shit we are, and I guess people are sounder and happier when there is room to understand this full-of-shit we are, except we are living in a new fifties, you could say, and everything is–is what? What is it? When is it? Is it at all? What else have we in genres to list? I see Moloch chewing babies that mothers have brought the great beast god devouring America. Where have we come, have you gotten, have I, what? I am, but mostly I am what I say I am when I write what I do, how I do. Enough.

Where then does this writing of history begin, and it is history that anyone writes when they write about themselves or another and another and another, each line creeping along, petty word after word until the last syllable; where does it end? How do we understand history apart from historiography? How do I understand my history–my story–all history is a story . . . We might want to understand where my story begins or ends–I don’t think of it as such. Is there an E Pluribus Unum of history. Wouldn’t that amount to an uber-history, a super historum, une surhistoire? What then do I say? I say so much, do I mean less by saying more? I keep writing and writing and writing and commenting on what has been written and comment on the comments in the commentary. I keep a journal. I have many, many notebooks, composition notebooks, hundreds of them, all of them filled with comments remarks observations experiences happenings reactions passions emotions arguments bile. What if I were to scan all those pages and collect them and publish them–what then would that say? More than ten thousand pages of journals, notebooks, sketches, poems, stories, essays, commentary and bile. Spleen. I vent my spleen in these books . . . listen my hypocrite readers, I could say, in the garden of my vanity, flowers of evil thrive . . . it’s not enough to say this, to say anything, words fail, don’t they, yet they are all we have to say what we intend to say but do not get to say because words transform in their forming.

There has been a tradition where story is story as in fictional story and history was history as in true story, but then that was or is how all people connected to mythology in a way other than how we understand the word ‘myth” understood their story. A myth was a true story and was separate from legend or folk-tale. Genesis is the true cosmogonic story of the Hebrews. If you want to make story out of it, something we understand to be fiction, then you go right ahead. The story of the Tlingit’s Great Raven as the bearer of culture and ethnicity is cosmogonic and in keeping with myth as a true story telling of their origins . . . but what about the history historians have written? What is this writing of history?

All history would then be historiography. I don’t want to say only historiography as if this writing of history were less than the history, nor do I want to be so restrictive that this historiography becomes in the mind the only thing that history could be . . . it couldn’t be. The stories we tell, the stories told, how they have been told, I remember reading the Odyssey when I was boy, how old was I, I think I was in the seventh grade . . . the times I did not spend in my room reading; the times I did spend with friends doing nothing, mostly, just being as some of us said, playing, horsing around, as it was said by some who were older than us. I was not the reader when I was young that I became later; I am not the reader I would like to be, understand to be an act that I am transformed by, no one who reads deeply and well remains the same person he was before having read . . . but the history of it, the history of me, of me as a reader, of me as a boy, of me as a boy in the Berkshires for summers in the woods, of me trying to be me, of me being me, of me being some other me, what other me, all the many me[s] there are inside me, inside the Self as I have said elsewhere and will say again as I have said before how I will say again, there is so much I say over and over snd over.

I believe in Truth, therefore, I believe in telling the Truth, the capital “T” variety of Truth makes it difficult–does Truth have variety?  There is at least variegation if not true categorical variation. How can it be done, this telling the truth (miniscule, intended)? I swear to the truth and the whole truth. We do swear this in our court’s of law. This is not a naivety; it points to the subjectivity of truth, the small-case ‘truth.’ I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, nothing but the facts as I recall them, recollect them, having seen them or heard them, let’s say the limit of the questions being asked me. Testimony is just that, the whole truth, nothing selective, nothing edited, excluded, revised from what I remember. But how is that possible? What then is the Truth? What do you want to know? What will you testify to? Jehovah’s Witnesses testify . . . I have testified in open court . . .

Testimony in history about history–history is what gets recorded, what gets written. What are the methodologies of historians, what have they been at different times and in different places. What has history been, what have historians at different times and in different places considered the discipline of history, the proper subject of historical investigation, the appropriate style of writing . . . what is and has been historical writing. The study of historical writing is historiography; the analysis of texts, the history of historical writing which may not exactly coincide with what we could call the history of history. History is testimony of a kind. Historians are supposed to tell the truth and the whole truth, as much as they can, but then what is this can?

Can is able to, can is allowed to, can is know how to, and this has everything to do with what gets recorded. The history of DNA, for instance is not what was initially recorded or acknowledged by the Nobel committee, or passed down in other historiography, finding its way into textbooks and then taught as the truth and nothing but the truth. But we know witnesses lie. We know there are conspirators who lie or manipulate facts or with hold facts in trials. We know prosecutors have ignored information on purpose to get a conviction. We know innocent men and women have been found guilty in court’s of law, and we know how much this has helped undermine our faith in Truth and our faith in reaching any truth. It has gone a long way in perpetuating a culture of doubt, a culture where doubt has become the highest form of wisdom, where instead of beginning with Socrates I know nothing, we conclude with it, leaving us with the belief that knowledge is impossible.

Do I have to be somebody, as when we say somebody as if everybody else might be nobody, in order to have the right to say what I do here? More questions? I could ask one after another continuing on and on in perpetuity, and depending how long I lived, this would determine how many questions I get to ask. We miss the point about time, about history; history is not exactly time, it is not what we think it is when we assume what we do about how it exists, the thing it is in our pre-thoughts. I am X, Y and Z, as well as A, B and C. I am everyone everywhere all the time. I am no one; I am anyone you could imagine. When I tell my story, I am testifying. Testifying. I was testifying to my life, to my Self . . . I am in every way I communicate with others, communicate with myself, in my head, in the mirror, on the page. Why choose to tell non-fiction or fiction? The blankness of the page before me with pen in hand is exciting for me. I am filled with hope and anxious expectation.

 Who am I to tell my tale, this tale, one told as I choose to tell it, herein without verse, without elaborate or conventionally accepted modes of conveying fiction? I like the word mode, from the French for style, for manner. Who do I have to be to tell a tale other than a teller; all speaking a way of telling something, no? But the tale, the story, what of this? Who does anyone need to be to believe that what he has to say he should say and not only say, but tell. To say is intransitive; to tell is only transitive. What have I told you? What have I said about me that could let you know something you think you want to know, sometimes think you need to know–who needs to know anything about anyone anywhere at any time? We all want to know more than what is good for us to know, all of us wanting to find out what we should have better sense to inquire about; but the things we should know about, know more about, we are content to remain oblivious about.

Progress is not an inference drawn from chronology alone. We can move through chronology, pass through the years from one to another without inferring anything like progress has happened. Do you think history is progressive, whatever history is? Do you believe in progress happening correlative to chronology passing? What is this thing time? Do we move in it, through it, as it passes us by? How is time, history? Is history like time at all? History is then a tunnel, or is history like an arrow shot? History is like an ocean, I remember saying to her at the ocean. History has tides and surges and waves and storms. History has its tsunamis. History has natural force; history is a natural force. What is history? is a question we ask, although I don’t know why we do? When is history, is another question? This question might be more appropriate than the former. The appropriateness of questions sometimes concerns me–there are always considerations of this kind for anything we are going to say in company. History is history is history whether it is written r not, told or not, right? No? What do you think? What do you say? What are you going too say, to tell. All of it the tale told by an idiot? I have more optimism than MacBeth. I would have to, wouldn’t I?

I could extend questions, string them one after the other, on and on and on until the last interrogative of recorded time. All the questions I ask followed by yet another string of other questions followed by yet still other questions–nearly perpetually, going on and keeping on . . . what is it that I am saying about the nature of questioning; taking the time to perform and act of social inquiry, of personal inquiry, of any kind of inquiry into any subject . . . what? Each could be extended, linked one to another and another every essay essaying what to essay–oral or literary–other forms of speaking or writing perpetuating itself into itself multiplied, replicated, de-formed, re-formed, all to continue informing, to put in form by information. To essay or not to essay, what do I essay when I do in an essay this thing about putting ideas on trial . . . I don’t now if I hate writing that is a parade of images for the sake of images, but I do know I know what Williams meant when he said it to Kazan . . .

If only to put what I think in a form suited, I would be happy. To accomplish this task of putting pen to page and saying something intelligent about something that begs to be discussed, again, to be essayed–I am fixed here on this trying out what I think, thinking not randomly passing images in the mind or playing hop-scotch with the names of ideas, the way most people do with the data of history rather than the matter of history. Yes, put on trial by the ordeal of ideas, I am as well as what I think–what then must the judgement be on the writing. Beauty, I have already concluded, as the Romans understood, cannot exist without form, except in a modified Greek understanding of absolute forms. The Romans and the Greeks did differ on the representation of beauty; go to the Met and walk among the Roman and Greek statuary and see. But Beauty manifests as this beauty or that beautiful something we do not need to name at present. I could extend any of the questions that might be asked about what I intend in the pages I write, I am always writing beyond the limits of one of essay or another or story or poem–God the variations of form that happen there, in my poetry. I write and I write and I write, ah! the walking shadows. How do shadows talk? What do they say? Saying so much over the years in notebook after notebook . . .

I have written many essays, stories, poems, critiques in a variety of styles for a variety of purposes for a variety of audiences–know your audience. I could continue any questioning far beyond where I take my inquiries in the essays I publish in the pages section of my website, fit only for those who understand what we once called literary tradition. Style shifts for need, of course. What more should I ask? I am the Review; I am everything and everyone there; every essay, every word, every title, every post, every video/film, each photograph you might see . . . could I apply this fore mentioned literary approach to subjects as diverse as from language and linguistics to epistemology and ethics? Yes. From history to law to then again historiography? For certain. Or to reading and writing in the most general application? I imagine so. From painting and sculpting to the state of theater in America? Why hesitate with a reply?

From blogging, to Orthodox Jewish landlords in my building diminishing maintenance services correlative with the rise in Muslim tenants in the compound where these Orthodox Jewish landlords are allowed, by the City that governs the housing they own, to act as they wish, or do not wish, and with impunity? Is it true that tis is what the city does? It feels like it is what the city does and does not do . . . Yes.

And I address all of these and then so much more, but how is always ever present. What is the rhetorical edge I am going to use and will it cut appropriately? Rhetoric must cut. I need to wield a scalpel’s blade. Surgery in satire is better than butchery. My pen is my scalpel, of course; memory at times is a knife that cuts . . . could I address in tones more sober that Mayor Frumpberg was a large Orwellian pig–in direct contrast to his diminutive staure and mousy nature before the media? Of course I could–but I would still need to tread gently. Did Frumpberg let landlords off thier leashes? I could say that he did, but to what effect when most of what we have in the media has conditioned us to be hyper polite to the extent that we are psychopathically polite?

Yes, of course we–that means I–could address all of these things, and I do understand that some might say that these conclusions are not matters of course; but I insist that there are self-evident necessities that must be phrased as we do, as I do–this review is not mine–it is me; I am the review. Thus, whatever it is that we will do, I will do; whatever we do, I do; whatever is done has been done by me. So, when I ask what I can do in my writing, I am of course posing the question as we like to say rhetorically. But as I have said before in other essays and herein, rhetoric is an edge that cuts. Is it though, the meat cleaver, or the surgeon’s scalpel, I will use. Surgery, I will perform; or, is it autopsy. Writers are sometimes coroners. But who am here: I am me, the man I am, but I cannot forget that the man I am is a plurality, not a singularity. I am we, of course, not just in the way I know that all the world is a stage, and like Jacques, I know that each of us plays many parts, not only the roles that advancing through age demand, but the roles created because I am not the same man when I speak to my neighbor as I am when I speak to my mother, nor have ever been the same man speaking to my mother as I have been speaking to my father, not the same man I am speaking to my father as I am speaking to any of my close male friends, not the same speaking to any of them as I am speaking to any woman who has been my lover, not the same speaking to one of them as to another or another or another of them, or speaking to any woman classmate in any college class I have had, not the same to any one of them as I am to any other one of them, nor as I am speaking to a woman friend who is not a lover or a lover who is not a friend, or to an elderly woman on the train, or a woman police officer, or a woman professor of my Victorian Lit class.

How could we not be many, plural; each of us is we, a multiplication of selves by the plurality of them in each Self, each person building a Self of many selves out of the experience and the givens of his or her life, no? I am not the same man I was last week, nor will I be the same man tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, sometimes being an idiot, even?


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