October 07, 2005

 

THE REAL THING


One day the two bums ...

You mean ...

No, I don't mean
Socrates and Cephalus, or Plato and Aristo, or Kant and Hegel, or Sartre and Simone, or X and Z no, I mean our two Bums, remember, B1 and B2 ...

Oh yes, of course ...

Well the other day, B1 said to his buddy, just like that out of the blue, so to speak, real language is always incomprehensible ...

So is love, sex, writing, B2 replied.

Not so, or rather quite so, my dear friend, since love, sex, writing are always dependent on language.

What do you mean?

What do I mean! Who is talking about meaning. Have I ever been interested in meaning? Me, the most irrational, nonsensical, incoherent being on this planet. Me, the chaos-drunk scribbler, the clown of meaninglessness and unreadability.

Don't get excited. Slow down. I'm losing you. What were you trying to say?

What I was saying, or attempted to say with words that I know are always deficient, always inadequate, pathetic, and thus comprehensible to most, is that real language and real sex (writing & love being substitute terms) are always incomprehensible.

I'll go along with that, I mean your idea of the incomprehensibility of sex or love, though personally I always make a distinction between the two. Sex is active, love is passive. Sex is hard, love is soft. But I don't see how it applies to writing.

The act of writing, my Dear B2, situates itself in the field of sexuality because it is always governed by desire, the desire that moves one to write.

Does that mean that for you writing is a form of sexual activity?

Damn right. And by extension language, real language is always phallic, or if you prefer phallogocentric because it fucks what it does, it screws up the object that it creates, and thus renders it incomprehensible.

If this is so, then we, as writers, should perhaps lock ourselves in the desert of our immense suffering, I mean the pain of writing, and there try to transform onanistically that suffering into indifference.

That's an interesting thought. I shall ponder it for a while and let you know later if I agree with you, but right now allow me to continue to believe, as I have done for a long time now, that my pen is a sword, or to put it in the right words, since these words came to me in French, yes in French in a dream, j'ai toujours pris ma plume pour une épée.

Are you aware of what you are saying?

Of course, I am. That I more often took or mistook my cock for a sword, or better yet my cock for my pen.

No, that's not what I heard. What I heard is that when you think of your phallus as your pen, you are really confusing your cock with your penis.

Isn't a cock and a penis the same?

Oh no! A penis is small, soft, indifferent. But a cock is hard, vibrant, full of desire and mischief. You pee with your penis, but you fuck with your cock.

You're just playing with words now. I'm trying to tell you something important about real language, and you reduce my words to an obscene play on words.

On the contrary, I am trying to show, as you have yourself stated, that real language is incomprehensible. In fact, that's why we are having this useless dialogue.

Useless! Okay, then let's try to have a useful dialogue.

Fine with me. What shall we discuss?

Well, let's first determine what we will discuss, and then discuss what we decide to discuss. Let us discuss what we proposed to discuss, had we agreed on the topic of our discussion. No, that was not it.

That was not quite what it was. It was, if ... if ... only if we could spend the next forty-five minutes (I have an appointment in forty-five minutes) discussing what we would discuss were we to have a discussion ...

Yes, we could have a discussion symposium. We could spend the next forty-five minutes discussing what we would have discussed had we had (had we had? -- yes that's the correct tense) a discussion symposium.

Had we had ...

That's it.

(Pause)

That means we either spend the next forty-five minutes being quiet and then discuss the "had had" ...

... which we did not discuss.

Yes. (short pause) Or shall we imagine the forty-five minutes having gone?

No! No no no! because then that would be a kind of ...

Mmmm ...

it would be like talking about silence.

I'm not sure. I don't know. Perhaps we could produce some very literate and meaningful silence.

I don't want to.

(aside) This is a very profound symposium.

No, I don't want to. I want to complicate the tenses of our discussion about the discussion that we should have were we to have had a discussion.

Where were we had?

First we discussed what we would discuss were we to have a discussion symposium, but then you ...

Oh, yes.

Right.

Now we allow time to pass before we tackle the real thing ...

... and then we could ...

we could discuss what we would have discussed had we had a symposium. Therefore, the next step would be to discuss ... right?

We could discuss conditionally what we would have discussed about what we would have discussed ...

(in disgust) Ach, no!

(unperturbed) ... had we had a symposium. Something like that.

No, let us rephrase, restate our original point of departure for this discussion, because it seems to me that we missed one level of tenses, an important level of tense.

(tentatively) Perhaps what we need now are future participles in order to in order to in order to ...

We will could ...

... discuss after we will had discussed what we will have discussed had we had been a symposium.

Almost, almost. Get it all down? Spew it out.

Mmmmm ...

That was good. Almost ...

Mmmmm ...

Having finished discussing that ... right ... then we would have to retrace our steps, I mean our verbal steps, either backward or forward to the original discussion of what we should discuss were we to have this ... this ... this discussion, this symposium, followed by the discussion of what we would discuss had we had had that symposium which we would then discuss what we will have discussed if we would have had a symposium. No ... No, I've missed something in there ...
(long pause)

No, it's not right, yet, no. Wait a moment.

(thinks). We are discussing ... we could start, we are discussing, we can ... WE (with mounting excitement) ... oh yes, I've got it. We can discuss ...

No, er, we are in fact discussing.

Correct, we are discussing what we would be able to discuss if ...

had we ...

... had we decided ...

... to have ...

... to have a discussion ...

... a potential discussion, for in fact we are now discussing the potentiality of the discussion that we might have had had we been ...

... discussing ...

THE DISCUSSION!

Exactly, the discussion itself ...

We are almost there, almost ...

Don't give up, this is starting to mean something.

What! You don't mean that, that we are starting to mean ...

Cancel that.

The point is, we've got to get to the stage, to the preliminary stage of the discussion in order to be able to have the discussion ...

Yes, what actually is being discussed, or will be but ...

There is no but, there is only what is under discussion ...

... and what is under discussion? The discussion of the discussion that we could have had had we had a discussion. It's as simple as that.

Yes, of course. Amazing how you always have the final word.

There is no final word since we were unable to decide what the discussion would be had we managed to decide on the topic of a discussion.

Quite right. So what do we do now?

Now. You go do what you have to do, and I'll go do what I have to do.


But what about ...

About what? Do you really think that we were talking about something? We were just talking something.

Talking a storm.

In a manner of speaking, yes. We were, in fact, talking the real thing, real language.

And that is why it was, or seemed, or will appear incomprehensible to most.

But not to us, of course, because as the initiators of that real language, we situate ourselves outside that language, and therefore, as such ...

Oh shit! I missed my appointment.

Too bad. What do we do now?

Let's have a discussion.


Check Out: Ray Federman on LINEbreak (click here)...

Full program (29:13): mp3, RealAudio

Federman performs his "Dada Poem for Two Face to Face" with Charles Bernstein in RealAudio format (40 seconds)

Federman performs his "Of Poetry" in RealAudio format (1 minute 30 seconds)

In his program Federman also performs a selection from his
Smiles on Washington Square and talks about the sentimentality of war memorials. His program was recorded in the Music Department at SUNY Buffalo in 1995.

Comments:
Grade A laughterature, right here.

Federman, this is THE REAL THING.

The real deal.

Mike
 
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