situ

We’re pleased to present an excerpt from Steven Seidenberg’s new book Situ. This work occupies a space that eludes easy classification–which is in keeping Seidenberg’s work as an artist, which encompasses multiple creative disciplines. In addition to this, he’s also the curator of the False Starts series at San Franscisco’s The Lab.

*

There was a sun the other day, he felt its weight upon his back, but even in the living of that moment he still failed to think…still rightly failed to think that mass an attribute of anything but his deferred reception, of his burden in its hauling, a fantasy of ballast that seemed sweet as it reached tongue. If he cannot taste it, he cannot bear it—an endless source of trouble in his commerce on the boulevard, however one can say that he has bought or sold his wares. If he cannot taste it…

*

It is not his, this foundling glimpse, but everything that’s in it is imputable to him. He cannot think this protean reduction of the scene to some assemblage of distrait associations—of surrenders of the outside to some intimated core—accordingly a predicate of his peculiar potency, his binding resignation to a boundless drive, a soughing dray, but who is really able to make such returnless venture allege a conformation to a vision of achievement, so a practice in the slightest way compelled? An odd rhetorical; who’s to say anything…to speak anyway…

*

Thus accepting his unknowing—if unknowable—acceptance of a world that’s not on offer but is taken up by force, the sense of sensibilities not understood as sensate allows a nearer vision of his present paralipsis, of what he thinks a vestige of his minderless lookout. Nearer is not inside, it may be, but there’s the triumph; to be inside would be equal to a positure bemused. If it’s inside that you’re after, then it’s inside…

*

Thus revealing his acceptance of a world he thinks as given, of a world he’s since received…he’s since aroused, if still too soon, he thinks back to the last sun, the only sun he’s managed to think back to as a likeness, but still he can’t lay claim to having ever claimed it present, so to here fulfill his promise…his next promise to the absent…

*

How else could one model such an aftermath of voices? How return one’s thinking to a day so long ago? So long past? Return such empty savor to the trick of having past? Why not here allow this indiscretion—this offensive—to take one no less willingly than bound towards such presentiment¼towards some resolve that’s set before the passions of the scene to come? To come, it is to come, he thinks, but that is not his present purpose, nor is it…

*

The last sun, the only sun, the only is the last sun, and that past long or short ago, whenever it played out within his in, it doesn’t matter…Whether it matters or not, that is to say, he knows it can’t be known, if for no other reason than the fact that such a standard is precisely what’s gone missing since it happened, since it last appeared…

*

Without this subjugation to the discrepating shadows—some atmospheric median to measure up against—he knows that he can’t hope to frame the passage of the hours, and without the passing hours his days appear a nearly insurmountable expanse. Perhaps he can hope, but he doesn’t; for him it’s proved impossible to cite what he’s collected as a singular impression—as a summary dissemblance—without the sense of passing into typic pose. He remembers only that which is inestimably long ago, for the fact that if the estimate were obvious to him—and that is all that means, he thinks, that viscerous alterity of cherished modes, of modes held dear—then he’d recall the figure of such gustatory ignis whenever it had slithered into happenstance, so had at some present time appeared…

*

All this to elucidate his wholly novel status…his displacement from the outside of the inside of the view, a posture unexampled to the auditors of fortune as they’re passing, as they saunter quickly past his septic cipher of a seal. He is as yet none other than another, than no other other ought…not only as an other, but as all others, as every other ever ought to be. That some are is as others ought is not his pressing problem, but of him…but for him…

*

Enough. He’s had enough. But such conditional satiety won’t dissuade him from returning to a moment from which he’ll soon forever more depart, when once again the burden of a passing fancy passes into dilatory savor, the radiance coerce a squint from convalescent pupils and the heat upon his neck impel the sweat to start…

*

He can still recall that day as clearly as…as clear as this one, but he can see it clearer; it’s not that it’s more proximate, but that it’s limned in greater detail, as a spotlight can illumine in an instant what’s been hidden from the easy eye for centuries. When was it, he wonders…no, that’s not the crucial question, not the right question, he’s sure. Even he—despite his longings—will not foist upon his subjects the vexation of such trivial concerns. Or perhaps that’s not the reason. Rather rather. Rather rather than perhaps…

*

He is yet rather incapable of saying…of deducing when it was that he was last, perhaps still first, but surely last…when he was last afflicted with that menacing exigency, that cavalcade of poses that his plethora implies. It would be foolish to assume the contradiction has escaped him, that such contraction of cross purposes—cross explanations, he believes, as though he might think his dreaming motive into some triumphant portrait of conditions not just born out, but derived—could slip by without notice, not by tongue or affectation but by being likewise thrust into an unshared world…It would be foolish, he accepts, and while such foolishness won’t push his expedition into shipwreck, he feels it as a shot across the prow…

*

And neither is his pleasure what excites such restive purpose, what instigates his suppliance to such a feckless trove. No pleasure, really. He confesses to no

pleasure in the pleasing, but in his image of the being pleased

*

He has this once remembered…has suggested to his alter, if only just this moment having first inferred its gaze, that his facile acquiescence to this inchoate adventure may be twofold, but in each case feigns the one…the singular surrender to…

*

Need he go no further? No, that’s still not it, he thinks, not as it’s most liable to engender such resolve. Need he make it clearer, more like such a one would fairly suffer in return? It’s always been a posture of passivity he’s after, a threshold of receivership he ambles ever towards…Need such a hapless seity go anywhere, he wonders? No, there is no need, it goes without saying; there is no need to say it, but what’s more…

*

One need not say one need not say, he can’t help but remember, a fact that won’t prevent him from attending to that standard for the equally impertinent, but no less circumstantial…does not ever thus prevent him from the saying for the exploit of disclosing that what needs be said is nothing…nothing like what is said, which is always as a surfeit, the always more than nothing that this symbol of an absence makes intrinsic, makes a predicate; the vessel that each more than merely nothing serves to fill…

*

He has unconcealed a twofold explanation for his rancor—his subtle divagation, as a parenthetic pause; he has recalled that at his earliest awareness of the sun upon his shoulder, his neck, his back, the back of his neck and the front of his shoulder, as felt through spreading gelatin of grimy frock, of molting peel…that the advent of the shine through that imperious edema stirred him from his resting place to seek out some relief. To seek an ease from what had seemed a visceral distemper, accorded by the fevered cusp of spitting lips, of guts clenched tight…

*

So which is it, he wonders, which point for the pointer, for the pointer to point to as his foundling husk, his ported shell? It is easy enough to accept the occasional coincidence of sun and seizure without designating primacy of stimulus or cause, but it is just as easy to deem either the occasion…the placeholder of a world expelled from aspiration or expectancy, a world that’s been unyieldingly…interminably deferred. Deferred to present circumstance, that is…that is the presence…

*

Deferred to present circumstance, that then of spendthrift splendor—both writ across his rictus and the vizard of the star—was made at last at least to seem an equal approbation for this consummate remainder, this submission to an otherwise importunate regard. Just who’s being importuned, who being importuned…

*

One thinks of every circumstance as serving some base ego, some target of intention that is consummately in, which is to say—not out…He thinks of every mover as a personhood, an agent, whereas the seeming obverse is not graced with such resort. Not every fitful anima is likewise capable of movement but…In this case both coincident conditions—the fever that ingeminates the out that mirrors in, and the in that takes the mood of every out to be its own—are identically engrossing, and together serve as setting for this portent of a finished tale. Or that one, he thinks. That one that he thinks of, and not in…

*

And so it was that when the sun was last lit blear and foul, when last his weary rapture hit that muzzle of a gloam, and not because of, not by virtue…He slackens and he hesitates, he fractures every fractured stone, and there, just there, he seizes on an inkling of some next propitious advent, a supplicant’s peremptory refrain. He recalls that pulsing plenitude because it was quite blinding, because that gasping vault was so discordantly ablaze, but that’s not why he’s stumbled into that same recollection, why he can’t seem to stop himself from yielding to this swoon. For that he has himself to blame. In that, he finds his witness…

*

But that’s not it at all, he thinks, that’s not his it at all. Or while that’s not not it at all, that’s still not it, and it’s always just the shibboleth of this perplexed anaphora he’s after. That it. This that. That this it…

*

What matters is…what is the matter is, that is, is that that once…that once before…that at least once before he left his bulwark unattended, precisely as he had at some pass prior to this last return, and that time, while perhaps still something less than…or is it more…either more or less than singular in occurrence—not unique, that is to say, in his typology of forms—is nonetheless the only instant…the one instance of abandon he can actually remember, or in what he imagines as a present tense recall…

*

That one last time the sun was out, and inside he could feel his bloat amount to an exigency, a want, he is convinced, that no consumer of like character can fail to fully slake without…Without at once erupting, in the strain of abnegation; without discretely bursting, before the next pass through…

*

He knows this is a commonplace, in his life as all others; he knows that recollecting just this instance is inane. What matters is that in his view the present scene is singular, and that not for the reference to his past evacuations, but the length of time it took him to retreat to place and prime; that in all other incidents of leaving off by leaving place his leaving had no consequence—achieved no signal anomie, thus adduced neither discomfort nor ensuing palliation to apportion with a logic, or a cause…

*

That he can only recollect one previous occurrence of the kind might prove a fault in his analysis, but it’s a point of scant relation to what concerns his…what concerns him here and now. Which is the understanding…the drawing out of what in substance made his stray from course result in such ponderous dudgeon, in refractory replacement—a change in state accepted, if in any tense endured. If revealed at any moment that’s conceived of as at present; as having been—or soon to be—described in present term. To catch the nervy beast one must not spring out at a distance…

*

What makes such recall apropos, thus different from all others—from that of any other other, next to or to come—is that he has it, and so can give a shape to that lost movement in the now. This is not to say that what on this deferred occasion has acceded to the mind’s eye—or even on that very same occasion this occasion here evokes—is what there was…is exactly what there was when it was there, there on the outside, but only that such aggregate bears some obscure proximity to what he thinks there is or was…there was or is…

*

Perhaps it is a kind of saying—a modulation of no small consequence. Perhaps he is saying to himself what he believes does not corroborate such cursory…such uniform reversion to some singular momentum neither distant now nor near, as refuse bobbing on the waves that catches the regard of idle gazer so that, following, the speed of what had once appeared the chaos of the deluge reads as stagnant in relation to the moving shore. He is saying to himself that thus distinguishing the torrent—thereby bringing it to stasis, if not keeping it in view—does not confirm…should not betoken the singularity of anything but a detail in the bracket of attention, where before…where before that there was no such, there was none…

*

There have been times, he thinks, and thinks it with a confidence unsourced in evidentiary display…There have been times, he knows, not knowing any reason he should know them so…

*

There have been times before this insurmountable regression—times when he had left his harbor just as nonchalantly, though only one such previous example leaps to mind. And that, it seems assured, is only sure on this occasion for a preternatural deference to some other sort of praxis—or perhaps of the same sort, but in some future sort of mull—when his quondam discomposure will with similar imperative require him to quit his place and so relieve his bloat…

*

But there is no such catalogue he’d like to now endeavor—that he’d ever like to now pursue as any patent end—and for this no pursuer would be less likely to thank him, if he could in the midst of his habitual aversion keep control over the impulse to do as he would want to now avoid. It can’t be much of a surprise that one so full of virtue—so wholly virtuous, he thinks, as though he need remind himself—would so thoroughly distrust the capricious pulse of longing, and in order to ensure he doesn’t rashly follow whimsy in the face of this predicament—that he won’t fail to understand what led him lurching lengthwise into this most thrilling spate—he’s inclined to purpose forward towards his full disinclination, an easement somehow palpably…intractably his own…

 

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