Because our knowledge is ignorance, or because it is neither knowledge of anything there nor the understanding of any truth, or because even if there is some entrance to that truth, the door may not come open except by means of ignorance — which is simultaneously path, gatekeeper, and gate.
︎ Giordano Bruno, from Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo (The Cabala of Pegasus), 1584
…to steep oneself again in this slow and massive world, where all things move with the ponderous sullenness of oxen, patiently through the immemorial ways, and of course where no investigation would be possible.
︎ Samuel Beckett, from Molly, 1955
Everyone is the other and no one is himself.
︎ Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, 1927
...the central signified, the original or transcendental signified, is never absolutely present outside a system of differences. The absence of the transcendental signified extends the domain and the interplay of signification ad infinitum.
︎ Jacques Derrida, Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences, 1966
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
︎ William Carlos Williams, The Red Wheelbarrow, 1923
There are as many ways to begin a story as there are starting points on a sphere. And of course every other aspect of narrative relation is born from the same innumerable axes.1 This is not said as an endorsement of a spiritless relativism but as a wary and preemptive qualifier to an exploratory project of which meaninglessness might be taken as the point out of hand. This is not the case, though relativity is present. The pieces under the title (anti-apex) are earnest attempts to paraphrase something like the transcendental specificity of quotidian experience. It is felt that such an exercise could, not without employing a certain joyful weirdness, help to clear up a common ever increasing misconception: that life is meaningless without steady, classic or universal meaning. It is the contention here that life is not meaningless without standards of meaning, meaning is just not consistent; it is circumstantial and contingent — though, and perhaps this is unfortunate, a viewpoint like this might require a fair amount of strength to maintain.2
This transcendental specificity is not a new zone for investigation; the feeling that an overarching idiosyncrasy pervades all human endeavors and conceptions (personally and as a race) has been primary fodder for much of the last century’s thought (Derrida’s transcendental signifier, Heidegger’s dasein, Williams’s red wheelbarrow and Beckett’s self-referential mumblers easily surface as examples). And obviously scientific developments of the latter modern period have, by introducing theories of relativity and uncertainty, displaced human ascendancy in the classic hierarchical order. But again the subject calls out afresh and intact in the age of the internet.
The algorithm of the standard web search, particularly Google Image searches, produces results almost Fluxus-like in its unharmonious counterpoint — a press image of some catastrophe, next to a banal product shot, followed by a standard holiday photo, and so on. The unimaginably nimble computations have pulled the polysemic underpinnings of general humanness into near existential focus. Disparity (or at least arch slipperiness) is shown in dominant aspect — and this is due mainly to speed. As said artists and theorists have been detailing general disparity for a long time but never has it been presented so involuntarily and naturally (as in outside the context of philosophy or art) and with so much velocity.3 Life more than ever seems to be suspended in a matrix of the un-taxonomic, the random, the tenuous and the fabricated.
Whether wholly conscious or not, it is in this light, that the following pieces were written. The main influence being an impulse to reduce narrative intentionality; not nonsensical just no arc, disconnected. The effect is that the plots feel something like gathered piles of kindling that are never used for an actual fire.4 As well there is a willful resistance to assured understanding, keeping in mind the sentiment of Bruno’s line above: the door may not come open except by means of ignorance.
As for the odd use of the pronoun “Us” employed for all protagonists, the “Us” is us — you, me, them, moi, ich. This is a device to intimate that you could be otherwise — like looking into a mirror and seeing someone else staring back.
It is one thing to write about an abstract notion, and quite another to write an abstraction. It has been the attempt with this project to perform the latter. So please note, that it is not so much the opposite of an “apex” that is the ground explored here, for the opposite of an apex, like a furrow or cavern is an apex as well, but an attempt to see, and ultimately feel comfortable, outside this sort of binary — perhaps a quantum fiction? In any case, after this exercise it is clear that humans think polemically and act randomly or better they act in a way that confounds the logic thought to be so common and straightforward.
1 It seems necessary to mention that informing these infinitely unique starting points is a preference of such a personal complexity and saturation that it could never be parsed. But is worthy of an entire study.
2 I have been to the desert; I know what goes on. The views detailed here are not an endorsement; humans are no less members of the animal kingdom than jack-rabbits — by extension humans don’t necessarily thrive by analysis.
3 Not to mention that the wholesale adoption of social media has made the construction of thin as paper personal narratives (masks) all pervasive.
4 It is a contention here that life is made up almost entirely of such unused kindling. Thoughts, actions, etc. plan to get consumed in the fire of arrival, but 99% of the time are just some sort of filler, and that is their true purpose — their mask is otherwise.