FOR NOW has only been titled many years after the initial “work” on this volume started in summer 2010. I remained thoroughly “in the dark” about this book for at least 3 years– and I remain in the dark about it. This is only appropriate, since FOR NOW is about “remaining in the dark.” It radicalizes the gesture that displaces Hegel’s Absolute Knowledge in the direction of Bataille’s non-knowledge – from a stance that purports to illuminate the darkness, to a dis-stancing that purports nothing – but distances, dislocates itself (or rather, lets itself dislocate itself, lets itself be dislocated by the other it hears within its own self-plea). In both Hegel and Bataille, the self is risked unto death; but unlike with Hegel, this risked self is not recovered in any movement of Spirit or in the sovereignty of any Lord. In other words: death is not turned into an operator of Truth; the self’s “negativity” does not turn into the magical power of Being. Hence, no stance can be taken here because the one who stands is nothing (cf. Agamben’s work on Homo sacer and especially on the “empty throne” of Glory (vol II, 2)). Instead, there is a being-distant-from whose only “light” is shed in traveling-between. Stated otherwise: All truth comes in shared experience. To-be-true here means: to-be-with, “abandoned.” Withness alone: the truth. This is what our “protagonist” seeks to uncover; and the text is an invitation to uncover this truth together.
FOR NOW tries to mobilize an experience of the whole universe/all beings/the community as “me” or “within me” – where this “me-experience” is what we share insofar as we are a being among beings – and yet equally nothing/everything ourselves. It tries to speak for every “one” by speaking from the point at which “I,” having sprung up as myself-thing, am already no longer just “me” or “something,” am already once again more “us” than “me.” In other words, where “I” am (is) “Being.” This doesn’t mean appropriating anything outside me; it means being ex-propriated, de-capitated in the name of no cause. That is, in being carried beyond myself, I do not become a mega-Me, nor is there any mega-Me (God) with whom I might merge. To “become one with the universe” means: to die, in the dark, holding on to nothing. But this leads us to the question: what if we could “hold on to nothing” right now? What if we could learn how to “hold on to everything” by holding to this “nothing” – this glorious “nothing” of everything-opening-up-beyond-me? What if we could learn to “hold to the presence of the opening”? After all, isn’t this what makes us be in the first place? Isn’t “death” at stake in all our quintessential activities– lovemaking, mysticism, poetry, song, conversation, laughter? Is there not communication at all our openings?
In essence, FOR NOW has to do with the possibility of eternal life – with the possibility of the impossible – of a potentially endless communication (“Being”). Or again: the possibility of a singular being (something) being consciously continuous with the continuity of (all) being(s) (everything/nothing). The possibility of “me” (not your me or my me, but me!) jiving with the whole universe – eternally. And so the possibility of inhabiting or exercising, oneself, the “empty throne,” which can only fade away (deposed) – understanding that this “same” empty throne, fading away, is true for each of us – the same empty-throne experience experienced by and in each of us. The question then becomes: how might we share this empty-throne experience out?
What is called for here is a “technics of glory,” without any final term or altar of reverence. A technics of glory is what begins after “the death of God” – that is, once we have discovered the grave importance of never filling the empty place. And so the need to keep watch over absent meaning, as Blanchot tells us. What we are after is therefore a practice of “empty subjectivity” as ethos (Agamben: bearing witness to “desubjectification” constitutes the ethical subject as such (vol. III)). In other words: an in-dwelling negativity that does not become the “magical power of Being.”
Obviously, it can’t be known beforehand what any of this means, or will mean, for us; one can only enter the movement and the risk it projects. In the moves we are making, knowledge can only amount to constant discovery: limitless, endless surprise. At each step, we learn the little thing we have to learn, and lose the little self we have to lose. We needn’t worry about what comes next: we wield only erasers, never answers. We maintain ourselves along the path of a substantial emptiness, navigating our way blindly. We become conscious sous rature. But what matters here is not truth-content, nor consciousness, nor outcomes of any sort, but rather a technology – a technique of being-nothing, a way of tracing nothing’s passage through a world. It does not constitute an operation; it undoes every operation as such. How might one “identify” with that? Only by being undone, on the limit, with no recovery. Only by un-doing – exactly.
Notice for BOTTOMED OUT:
This “book” arose out of a dissatisfaction with poetry and philosophy: it is a wanderer’s attempt to make his way through the forest of his own thoughts and emotions while simultaneously communicating with all of existence, directly communicating with you. It represents “my” trying to “find my voice”: to find a form to suit the formless. In the years following, this experiment has become the larger work I call FOR NOW: it gathers these writings whose sole aim is to be vulnerable. The text presented here is essentially still in its draft stages.
Notice for ME, EASED, ERASED:
What we have been waiting for all our lives is this disordering of the order that suffocates us. –Georges Bataille
ME, EASED, ERASED was composed in late August 2010. Most of my activity that summer was devoted to the book BOTTOMED OUT, which was the centerpiece of my Honors Thesis at Iowa. That piece tried to address my growing dissatisfaction with the possibilities of poetic and philosophic form. A different form was needed for the urgency in my soul– an urgency to communicate, to “reach,” from the very limits of my own being-(erased)-in-time, without any of the distance that artifice and argument allowed. This “form” essentially became one of raw disorder, as I surrendered to my own meaningless death. It therefore reflects the disorder of “me.” This form, or disorder (“me”), continues to this day. It is not satisfactory, but it does deal with the dissatisfaction as best as I know how. The hundreds of pages attached to this disorder constitute the “project” most important to me, a project that is in fact coextensive with my entire life (see note #1)– FOR NOW.
It is important to note that this book, along with BOTTOMED OUT and all the pieces associated with FOR NOW, are retroactive, illusory constructions (if they even are constructions, in fact). They are very incomplete things. They do not make whole pieces (nor do they try to, as you will see), and the boundaries set up by their beginnings and ends are essentially random, linked as they are to contingent facts. Each “section” simply (re)marks one session of writing (reading) constantly exposed to the community. There is only one real “rule” here: (1) seriality of the draft in its initial emergence, its skeletal occurrences; (1) total openness to variations and revisions within that original material; and (1) never forgetting the importance of the original skeleton: TIME. This applies “up to the very last second” (meaning: at no point in the future would I hesitate to edit these words).
In reality, there is no way to overemphasize the importance of this principle. Editing, I must remain attendant to the present interruption of the other, event, self: the other self, the other desire, the next event: world and text. I must remain open to the coming otherness in all its form; I must be TIME, or else. Otherwise I would do an injustice to the “generative method” of this writing and of existence itself (see note #2). “Re-writing” or “un-completing” is thus the very essence of it (writing: life with each other). As for the initial “seriality” of the drafts: Each fragment and each section come subsequent to the previous ones and are doomed to stay in their place. I maintain this time-given, fortuitous arrangement; edits, when made, are made in random spurts. The only freedom I have is the freedom I fancy myself to have this very second. As TIME, it must be your freedom. That’s the only rule. I never catch up, I have no control, meaning: it’s yours. It is therefore not inappropriate to consider the entire thing an accident quite blindly entrusted to others. Ergo: it is “myself” (for now…).
A quick note on the reading of this collection of books: The internet page makes “top to bottom” reading almost unavoidable, but a “linear” reading of FOR NOW is not only not necessary, it is not possible. FOR NOW is written “by chance”: it is meant to be presented and read at random: a book whose pages can be near you, meditated, excavated, cherished, flipped through quickly in a daze, practiced, buried, etc.– anything (see note #3), so long as it’s now, true to what is FOR NOW. It is meant to be nothing less than a simple supplement to action in your ever-mutating clarity: to assist you in your entering of new streams, to assist you in creating new ones, all those currently-dim pathways that you cannot “predict,” but are presently learning how to pursue. These pathways of yours do not need to have any meaning: what matters is that you enjoy them. The message of FOR NOW is: go for it.
“The reasons for writing a book can be brought back to the desire to modify the existing relations between man and his fellow beings,” writes Georges Bataille. That is what this book means to me, that is what FOR NOW means to me daily. It enters and exits materially: shared experience, shared materiality. My experience: ours. It exhausts (the) “me” unavoidably. FOR NOW is one of an infinity of ciphers for naked existence. In offering this preface, I only hope to situate it in its own situation: its incredible, incomprehensible openness to you. My hope is that I have minimized unnecessary misunderstandings and made room for the necessary ones. Beyond that, I leave you to yourself.