Excerpt: SITU by Steven Seidenberg

That the glint of shining rill…the shining rill of coruscations should impregnate his mute sputter of a credo with mimesis—with a clarity that mirrors the illuminated detail of that always thought as sedentary mise-en-scene…That the clarity of detail in the bracketing of portions—in each compelled distinction that seems inner as its own—should more probably engender the recurrence of that savor—well, the trouble with imputing cause to some fixed correspondence seems implicit, so expressing it inane…

Yes, it is more pleasant; he commands a zealous taste, that is, for even sparse illumination; he’d happily solicit any tawdry torch to brighten up his gloom. But why would such impulsive inclination effect purpose? Why does it matter that he likes the play of sunlight on his vistas, that the void should seem to open with this impudent élan? Does pleasure play a role in any comparable recurrence? Can one only recapitulate what one has first enjoyed? And most importantly, perhaps, in hopes of searching out a witness…a testament to what he here unerringly presumes, does the mist of bruising skies deprive the world of focused detail? Does limpidity revealed and then occluded still purport no more a loss of what was there, set in the sun? Is there not a clarity to even blurred horizons? Is there motive to believe the clearest detail the most real

The problem is this; he’s arrived at…is possessed by this unwieldy anamnesis as though a divination—as a vision thrown upon him—transported from attendant inflammation in the darkness into spatterings of mollifying glare, but such clarity of provenance has only been occasioned by an evident resumption of the danger—of the menace—enough of a departure to make any next occurrence of a past life seem irrelevant at best…

At worst, the seeming unreality of that myopic syzygy might spread across his purview as a common sick, a rampart that can’t hold against the guise of forward thrust if any ragged cut of stump or stone is out of place, but even so his joy at the return of that insipid gleam compels him to refocus on a visionary emptiness of far greater concern—his replacement of his placement from the aspect of eternity with his placement in the confines of some singular duration, his unwitting and unwanted abdication to this daily flux…

That the recollection of past pleasures should increase the pain of present importunities is nothing new to him—nor to his interlocutors, as he would here portray them, as if he could incite such wraiths to fit his measly wont. If one has ever had a single pleasure interrupted—and if one’s ever pleased, he thinks, that pleasure’s sure to finish—then one has lived the pain of recollecting that lost portion, the longing for some excitation one can’t know again. Still, the defect that confounds him is of a different…a more fundamental stripe, a credence which—occluded from the pose of such base certainty—could never be in any set or series unconvinced…

The problem, he continues—or one problem, really, one of only few, but only one…The problem here most urgent is that he’s realized this demurrer to mimesis by the contrast it presents to present fortitude and theme, and such examination can’t address the singularity of the process, the fact that this past bracket in particular draws such resolute attention to that fulgent blight, that umbral bane. Even if he fathoms why the image should beseech him in some moment of vainglory, he still can’t say what justifies this instance of what surely must be many comes to mind, and this alone…

And though he understands why he inclines towards this occasion over others not yet brought to story or to mind, such assertion suggests a knowledge of those junctures whose existence—thus whose nature—remains implicit to his seemingly dispassionate recall. The first hurdle, really, really just the first, is that his ardent pleasure in that past life—in the past life of the star, if not his own redacted pulse—is not sufficient to discriminate the episode that currently enthralls him from every other outwardly homologous retort. Still he can recall no one but that, but that one plexus—a cynosure that cleaves a world so sanguine in its savor, so dazzling in its burnished moat…

Intrinsic to his state of mind beneath that torpid cinder is a knowledge—a conviction—that not only was that moment not the only of its kind—of such a profligate excrescence, such a surfeiting parole—but that it’s neither neither first nor last to take that fraught mimesis for the flush of his deflection, the circuit that his voluble compendium inscribes. He knows it is not singular—at least as it seems pertinent to this now heedless nor—in defiance of the poverty of other known surrenderings to grope of tongue and membrane within the darkling purview of some future mull…

An aimless approbation it may be, but interior to the patois of his colloquy just the same. He knows that in that instant…within his instantaneous remembrance of that instant there are many such auxiliary inclusions which he can’t remember now but for that backlog…his abdication to that backlog of intents…

It’s not that he recalls it ever happening…its having happened to him more than once, in the full and fetid fever of the twin suns—the inner and the outer, as the thingness of the idea of the thing and of the thing—but that in that then he can recall he could recall some one or many other times before then, one or many, he doesn’t know, or can’t recall, which amounts to little difference, the same difference…

In that once then he knew that it had happened then before then, though of that then he can’t recall the now or the now then…

Why any one occasion should take precedence, he’s uncertain, he can’t say…Why some one occasion should seem more than any other in the mayhem of his memories he has no distinct idea, but only fragments…

He believes that in that then there was another then, for knowing then the ease he felt in thinking his return to his last harborage a fait accompli. That now he should recall but this one instance and its surety—a surety that surely arrogates an iteration neither singular nor singularly claimed—has insistently revealed a certain real within his rancor, the real of what such craving unremittingly commands. There is a hidden clarity, he thinks, within that pallid landscape, an underlying target on his way back to his berth. Such is the nature of surprise, that one finds error in expectancy…

Even could he recollect no surmise or model of expectancy fulfilled, his reflexive shock at finding his seat occupied would continue to insinuate some unexpressed epitome of having happened otherwise, something like unto remembrance, if not precisely imaged as occurrence in the view…And so he wonders; what significance the fact that he remembers that phenomenon, any such phenomenon any way at all? What is it about that time in particular that recoils into consciousness? That lends that static vista the tincture of truth…

He returns to the impression that the image made upon him, the complexity of detail that the light seemed to reveal. That the light revealed, that is, not as refraction of a dappled world but of an inner stasis, of everything not as it is, but as one thinks it will. Why, he wonders, should such lucidity be prudent to the nature of the thingness it puts forward as a forward? Why not take the haptic mists of some occluded starscape—some ruin of fog and clouds rent from the sky—for precisely that precision, but as such in the limning of an image of the blear? Is a preference for lucidity…for the glinting gold putrescence of a gloating star enough to justify some claim to rectitude, to discernment—that only in that focus can the truth find its villein? What leaning is, what preference is—it’s all too much to hazard. What he wants to know is where the foundling present finds its presence, in what perfervid slither into fistule, into void…

It seems to him that even this indomitable litany of rhetoricals requires more than isolation in the thingness of the thing as it appears; that every passing moment, regardless of its character—every image of the gilded fields transposed upon the plough—is indentured to duration through its presence, through the total that displays it as a picture of what’s now what’s yet to be revealed…

If any world endures as such it can’t be in an instant; its passage through the present must extend both to and fro. Think, he thinks, a knot of string split loose upon the pavement, imagine its frayed ends unfurled across the boundless marl; watch it trailing off, while firmly fastened to this nodule, an omphalos he tries to think as infinitely small, but he can’t do it, he just can’t, and so his insight takes this form; that the infinite extension of the future, contrary to accepted trust—and it seems to him a common precept, even if it’s here professed as some form of digression, as an unexampled subtlety, an evanescent leap—is not mirrored in a focus without meter, without substance; a limit whose ostensive pith is proffered as a traipse across…

But metaphors alone, he thinks, suggest such meager prospect he wishes there were something like a bit of twine in sight—something other than his thinking thoughts to succor as a purpose in the midst of this compulsion to such dithering descant. He scans the ground for some one thing, for anything, for just enough, but still he comes up empty; he finds only some sunny day no longer in the present…that is no longer present but…that this now is encumbered, nay, encompassed by in toto, a peon to some vacant—yet vestigial—ideal…

And so he thinks he understands the rule of such dissemblance, the organon by which appearance manifests as real­—that set behind the landscape is what’s set within the landscape; that the essence of the sighted is what’s cobbled into view. What more could he depend upon to move…to move on from, he asks himself, but there’s no answer, neither question to direct his affectation of a counterclaim. Too much more, he thinks, though even that without conviction, lacking any method to mark progress or decline…

He’s thinking too much more than this, than any just as this is, in this case what elicits his return to nearer stall; so the trick of superfluity that draws him to his nature was uttered into purpose by the maundering remains of some expectancy obstructed, a game of locks made level by the push and pull of tides. He that ever…ever…He that ever needs return to what returned him to his hope of second chances soon excoriates the cureless wound of certainty…

What seems to him so hopeful—an abundance of resilience—is that he felt not only such a certainty when finding himself purposed into similar occasions in the past, but that the one he now recalls is still unusual in some way—still offers him a pretext for its unrivaled propinquity within his recollections, its character fit to the plight that sets his weary frame. Finally, a reason. Finally, a cause. He’s sure that this peculiar apparatus, if it is in fact peculiar, he knows that he can’t know…that this control he judges so specific in its nature is not only instrumental in the forming of his faculties, but also the appraisal of his place and fortune now. What he knows or thinks he knows…

What he thinks he has discovered is the means by which some enterprise he roughly calls conatus chooses one form to return to over others that don’t differ much in substance—in trace of shape or substance—despite its apposition to this or that occasion that’s occasioned its recall. As if aptness were a quantity…were conceived as quantifiable…

But it isn’t, he assures himself, and that’s the fitting point. What arrives as a constitutive reprise of this incipience—what’s perfectly understandable when considered from this stance—has failed to take account of both the practice and economy of such unwitting paragons, to understand the mechanism by which the shared coherence of the senses feigns the modal iterations of such egoless consent. What he thinks he has discovered­—has achieved, devoid of want—is that the image is made flesh by an associative praxis, that within every presentiment lies a fleeting collocation to the seer—the receptor—without which no duration would be possible, so no seity assume appropriation to pursuit

Absent such duration—thus the bulwark of enduring—one could never think the world as true, which is to say as extant. To say the truth or sense it, which he’s sure are the same thing. That he may not be right is of no consequence; if he’s wrong but it won’t vary the trajectory of his next resolve, then it’s not worth the working out until the future hits upon the means to sight that errant turn. As if that’s stopped him elsewhere, but…

Back to the point. He must go back to the point. Always back. He must always go back to the point. The point at which he started when he started to go back to the point, there on the bench beside the bounding benchside…

He’s departed from the point by recollecting his penultimate attempt to return to the point—the last that he can at this point recall, if nothing more. And that, he recollects, was just the point of recollecting the return he last encountered; he can’t confirm, that is to say, that what he’s named as last is in all actuality his lattermost attempt to make his way across the damascene of upland drifts and plaited groves, and this seems an imprudent gap in his sweep of awareness, a hint of what he torpidly bemoans his baneful ignorance, his flaccid grasp. He tells himself again it’s inconceivable to try to tell oneself and find one’s effort fallen short, that one could never fittingly identify a difference—chart some method to distinguish—between such failed attempts and those same acts of telling, of repeating as though telling…

Excerpt from SITU

Now Available from Black Sun Lit

 

 

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Steven Seidenberg is the author of SITU (Black Sun Lit, 2018), Null Set (Spooky Actions Books, 2015), ITCH (Raw Art Press, 2014), and numerous chapbooks of verse and aphorism. His collection of photographs, Pipevalve: Berlin, was released by Lodima Press in 2017.

Excerpt provided by Rhizomatic

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