The Becoming of Be(com)ing & Nothingness & how come in becoming it becomes us
An excerpt from The Becoming appeared a few days ago in Tarpaulin Sky.
Part of the struggle in making The Becoming is that it never feels complete .. as it never should .. as nothing should. As the title implies, it is continuously in a state of becoming. This is it's nature.
This excerpt we sent to Tsky was back in October 2012 or so .. around our last days in Rome when we were drinking aquavit with the bear-like Swede we mentioned in the last post. Back before we even called it The Becoming.
We considered sending a more recent revised version to Tsky before it went live, but we hate when people do that with Sleepingfish .. send us revisions after we've accepted it & laid it out. And as it is, it's a snapshot of what this thing we now know as The Becoming was back then .. this particular section anyway (#8 of 16).
The opening section that appeared in elimae was from an even earlier phase .. over a year ago. Perhaps we'll post here the final version of that section to see the difference .... if it ever becomes complete. Maybe we should just «publish» the whole book here & that way nothing would be set in stone .. it could be forever morphing.
Such is the limitation of books .... the moment they become printed, they collapse into dead static objects. This is true of art in general, when paint dries on canvas, or emulsion becomes fixed on photographic paper .... for that matter it's a reoccurring theme in physics, religion, etc. We spend our lives in pursuit of some sort of idea, call it X .... X could be a book (writing it or reading it), bliss, happiness, capturing a sub-atomic particle, buying a car or cup of coffee, the big O, etc. It's human nature .. the foundation of our being.
Blogging is just yet another manifestation of this vain pursuit .. trying to capture thought, chronicle our lives, make tangible sense of this flood of information .. knowing full well the moment we write or read something we idealize or trivialize it .... yet we persist. When we scratch the itch it itches more & we scratch more ....
.... the exception being that this space is not so permanent. Things can change here & the object as a whole .. the blogject .. is never ending. People have suggested we turn this into a book. But 5cense is what it is .. a living object, malleable & ever growing. And hyperlinked into the ecosystem of other such living objects. And this space also allows for multimedia & things like on-the-fly translation.
All this philosophical mumbo jumbo is of course nothing new. In Being and Nothingness, Sartre writes about this pursuit, this causa sui, or cause in itself, wherein man is forever trying to complete himself .. like Ouroboros. This pursuit comes in dualities of creation & destruction .. we conceptualize things & then we destroy them (by writing them).
.... there, we just did it .. & you just did it in reading this .. you had an unformed vision in your head of a possibility, a probability cloud .. & we either said it or we didn't .... either way the thought materializes in some form or other. We'd say «the ink dries» but in this case there are layers of code concealing any physical manifestation of permanence .. but these words live somewhere, embedded as binary code in a silicon chip on a server somewhere on the other side of the planet from where we are. Part of my motivation in writing some of the recent posts in languages other than english was to disrupt this notion of permanence .. to add another layer (google translate) that happens on the fly.
Philosophers for the most part seem fixated on analyzing «being». it's even in our species name, human beings. To be or not to be is the question. But what about becoming? As we've mentioned, we haven't used the verb «to be» once in The Becoming. Regardless of the outcome, it has forced us to think some on how reliant we are on this verb & what this verb is doing to the inside of our heads. Being is an illusion we can never obtain.
For example, X =Nirvana can never exist if we consider it as a state of being. We are always trying to get there but never do. And the crisis has only deepened lately in this modern world of instant gratification, cheap flights, easy access, of having everything at our fingertips in the here & now.
But if we consider X as a state of becoming, then it exists, always. If we stop trying to get there or call it something, we realize we are here already, always were, in this state of X .. this state of becoming enlightened or whatever word you want to attribute to X.
Becoming implies a coming into being .. & a perpetual coming at that.
Either it already exists or it becomes, but nothing ever is .. the verb to be should be obliterated from our language. The verb to be doesn't exist in Chinook Jargon, the language cannibalized in part to draft The Becoming. They made do in those times by saying «the goat he sad» rather than «the goat is sad» .. or «the goat he runs» rather than «the goat is running».
The monkey rides the goat .. still. Even when you are not looking they are still running .. never getting anywhere in particular. Forever in a state of becoming.
Funny how rotating GIFs aren't searchable. Google-wise it's like they live in an alternate universe. Videos are different. Videos are static .. they have a beginning & an end. Bela Tarr pushes this extreme, especially in response to Sátántangó. If he had his way, he'd probably make a movie that was as long as your lifetime.
Of course Finnegans Wake famously has no beginning or end .... in theory. In reality it is subject to the constraints of the book object medium.
What else is funny is how the word become is used as an adjective, in regards to fashion accessories. If something becomes you, it becomes part of your being .. it completes you.
Heraclitus was an exception (to philosophers fixated on being) .... back in the 6th century BC he said nothing in the world is constant except change, or the state of becoming.
As we remember someone saying in a philosophy class we took once in another life, «There is no continuity in becoming, but there's a becoming in continuity.» We thought maybe Bergson said this, or Whitehead, but you, The Internet, are of no help in attributing blame.
Maybe we did? Maybe it was Lucretius?
It doesn't matter who said it.
Shortly after Heraclitus, Leucippus talked about this 'becoming' as the movement of atoms.
Heraclitus is the one who said «Πάντα ῥεῖ» which translates literally as "the whole flows [as a river]». Which is to say, «everything flows, nothing stands still.» And long before Derrida, Heraclitus believed in the unity of opposites .. that «the path up and down are one and the same.»
Reading & writing become one & the same .. but you can never step in the same river twice, or however the saying goes.
Sartre saves his ass some by breaking being down into two types .. being-in-itself & being-for-itself. Being-in-itself is like people who eat to live. Being-for-itself is like living to eat .... at least that's how we think of it. Being-for-itself is a conscious state of being, with free will. When a possibility arises, consciousness has two options, to make them appear or to annihilate them .. a duality that we will perhaps go into more in a future post. Suffice to say Sartre also pre-seeds Derrida in realizing the need for a negative, unconscious, state to counter-balance the conscious state .. a void, the namesake nothingness of his opus. This nothingness represents untapped potential .... what allows for free association.
We started to read a book this week .. but it's scarcely worth mentioning .... C by Tom McCarthy. So far we don't like it nearly as much Remainder, which we talked about here. Not sure we'll bother to finish it. In Remainder, McCarthy talks about this compulsion to document, to photograph & how we release ourselves in re-enactment.
The secret is to be always becoming, to never plateau. Even if this means being stuck in a life-long re-enactment of Zeno shooting an arrow.
We read some other things but we'll talk about them in another post. Mostly though reading for Sleepingfish. And started a new freelance design gig so not much spare time. This becomes a procrastination to all these other things .. especially in finishing The Becoming.
It's April now, but still below freezing. The trees still have no leaves. Out our window they are filming a film. The film appears to be set in the 70s or 80s. There are all these old GTOs & Lincoln Continentals & BWMs & Cadillacs parked in the street. Dozens of them. Police have blocked traffic & are letting only these cars drive in circles in the background to whatever it is they are filming (a strawberry blonde guy having a conversation with some dark-haired woman on a park bench (a simple search on Twitter tells me it's a TV series called The Americans)). They've even hired dozens of kids to play in the playground behind them .. in exaggerated movements (as if kids actually play like that). There's joggers, people walking their dogs, men with newspapers & briefcases .. none of them «real». But when is it ever?
The photo doesn't prove this is a film set. Maybe you can see where traffic is being diverted on the upper left, or the assistant to the assistant director in the lower right corner with a walkie-talkie, telling people they can't pass.
What a strange lot we are .. us human beings .... like bees, an organized swarm trying to capture .. what .. on a medium we call film.
And us trying to capture this capturing .. to capture the becoming.
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