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    JOHN STEVENS

Fiction by
Steven Seidenberg
from Itch
Many failed attempts. Perhaps this is the first. Of my many failed attempts, perhaps this is the first. The first in what will soon appear a series of such failures—surrendered to the obloquy of having yet to happen, or having happened…I say surrendered, and I say attempt, the language of a game which attempts…I say the saying and the saying says… 
                                                                                               

                                                                                        o

Perhaps this is the first of all the many claims to primacy required to claim any claim to primacy a proof, an incidental figurement of problems and procedures near to happening…near to constituting happenstance as it stands fore right now…
                                                                                     

                                                                                       o

If this is sure the  first where there has not yet been a second…If this attempt to…If this trope yet amounts to the surrendered primogeniture of other tropes predicted to surrender sometime soon, then how can one presume to think…to mean those varied instances within the nearing preterit and certitude of having passed and purposed themselves into…
                                                                                   

                                                                                    o

If this is sure the first of what I know will soon be many…But that’s not where this portent finds its bearing
—so its aim. What saying this is first without first having said that this is something…something like…that this that I will soon contrive as something like the subject of…of this and this alone…
                                      o

What saying this presumes is that its referent is this saying this—the saying that this saying this presumes, if it’s not clear. One ought not need proclaim that such an act of proclamation is occurring—is transpiring—by virtue of the saying of it in its present term, but thinking of it so and still adducing it as primary allows that what will follow has since discharged its effects, a shouldering of contraries that I can’t yet…can’t here…can’t yet to here abide…
                                     

                                                                                      o

One might well think to countenance this sort of vain perversity—and the speaker thus inveigled to presentiment by the pose—in hopes that such regard could thereby supervene the parallax through which this dreary précis is ostensively reviewed, and I have—or will admit to—no clear motive or intention to do otherwise; one might do so, but why take on the trouble of resisting so much contrary resolve…
                                                           

                                                                                     o

It’s not that there’s no evidence to justify describing this the first of many failures all the rest of which have yet to be construed, but rather that the aftermath that this failure maintains vows neither to be recently accomplished nor begun, a failed attempt by dint of this attempt to claim a first successful failing to…to…It’s clear even to me you have no reason to be sure…

                                                                                    o

And do I now—or still, I’ll risk—have any sense what pratfall I have since proposed as primary—the first first in the series, as though the very first of all? The first to send me canting down this course without a recourse; to have at once succeeded in the taking of this seeming leave as though it were a trail? Seeming, I declare, to crudely intimate a truer drive, a yet unnamed ambition in this… from this deftly garrulous repose, this feigned rapport, despite the fact—which you may well have missed—that I’ve done only that to make it so. Suggested that it’s so. That I’ve done nothing more…have proferrednothing more than the suggestion that it’s so to make it seem so…
                                                           

                                                                                    o

If it appears I have a purpose that’s unwittingly concealed by my advancement towards fulfillment—towards arrival in the form I will uphold—then it’s arguably best for me leave off leaving off with it, and forthwith leave off leaving off with it for good. For the good of all concerned, myself not least among them. Neither most, I’ll tell you now, although I might be wrong…
                                                             

                                                                                   o

Having made countless attempts at an accounting of the countless, each attempt is equally a failure, a dead end. This may well be the first of all such minor supplications, whether you or I will ever come to know it so before…before what will come after this, whatever that that this is—or will by some yet unknown means become when it’s revealed. Whatever will come after this will make of this before the very first of all my failures in the endless seriatim that will surely follow after, as one conceives the chain of chance arrayed within the bane that set it off…
                                     

                                                                                   o

That failure results from failure and success from success may seem more of a posture than an inference, or a premise proved; one can readily concede success where there seemed failure in the offing and… What matters in this instance—this measure of the case in point by pointing to it elsewhere, to the elsewhere it implies, if not unwittingly presumes—is that my many failures to enumerate my failures are enough to countermand what yet appears the future failure of the path we’ve started on…we’ve started down…
                                                         

                                                                                  o

Of my many failed attempts to name my many failed attempts, this one, I assure you, has proved to be the very first, so equally convincing my importunate receivers—importunate, no doubt, but no less welcome a contrivance of the form of this address…the address of this form, which is…So equally concerning to whomever should accept this affectation of a prelude—of what I hope will someday seem the prelude to a finished tale—is that there are still countless deviations from my purpose still to come…
                                                         

                                                                                 o

But if they’re still to come, you ask, how does he know they’ll happen? Is he the sort of dullard who sees catastrophe at every turn? Alas, it’s not for me to blunt the edge of such accusatives—to countenance an ancillary predicate of character that I can’t say I wouldn’t scorn were I but judge and not accused. I can say that the proof of my ill humor won’t be found in the veracity of my anticipations—my near announcement, if you will, of some last resort. And even this capitulation won’t suffice as an appraisal of the stratagems thus strategized, and aiming towards…
                                                         

                                                                                 o

The problem has to do with the foreboding I still feel for those same acts that I allege to have completed—to have left behind; the rupture, it appears, between my image of…my reverence for a series of events I’ve claimed concluded and the accompanying announcement of that imminent catharsis as though it had preceded all the rest by its design…
                                                             

                                                                                      o

Yes, yes, you say, what of it; who needs this hardly bold expatiation on the evident…the ostensibly self-evident paradox of a past presumed preceded by the inherence of its now.  The difficulty, I suspect, has more to do with this regression to the  first of all my inferences—the gist of our acquaintanceship, both in fealty and a€ ray—while the incident such desultory debitage implies is still in medias res; that once again the this of which I speak can’t be identical to this instance of my speaking it, and yet I’m more than willing to proceed with my account…
                                                         

                                                                                      o

Perhaps you see this this as but a retrospective prologue, a second thought appended to what’s  first come  first—the  first into which this appendage leads us, as a pathway; the  first that draws our pathway to its  finish, as a line. And while I think I’ve long since shown my sympathy with the argument—even argued it beyond what I imagined the peculiar skills of those who I imagined  firstly raised it, whoever you or they may prove to be, or serve to court—in answer I can only say…can only claim it’s not the case; that the paradox must not…will not yield to resolution if I’m to have my way—whether in the end I have my way or somehow, some way don’t…
                               

                                                                                     o

I may not have my way with this or that digression, accepting that my way is not laid out before it’s had, but it’s still in agreement with those same preconditions that determine what the making of an ought will…must avoid if it’s to prove desideratum in the end. Again, I am aware of the discordance of this idiom—without, that is, a sense of fore or a the fore or aft I’ve started here…this herein with—but such awareness does not sway my addled inclination to continue on the way that I’ve continued in the past…
                                                             

                                                                                    o


I’ve found no way to properly delineate the passage, other than this manifestly inconclusive pose—a pose that hardly strikes despite the absence of its obverse, the sense of having up till now eluded all fidelity to posture or device. I’ve come upon this aggregate—or gleaned it  from the whole—by claiming to describe my breaking free of its arrears, a subtlety of affect even I can’t adjudge due. As though one might already have concluded that my competence to prosecute the yet unstated point of this reprise is at the limit of what’s possible for any sort of intellect to prove. Even I, I say again, am fairly sure the confidence this surety suggests is not quite warranted…will be revealed unwarranted by avowals still to come…
                                                             

                                                                                     o

Whatever this state is—this state in which you’ve found me, which might as well be understood the state in which I’m found—it is by implication the emergence of the whole towards which this pretense of an ego strives. Whatever I’m suggesting is the purpose of my purport, the action of purporting it to not yet be complete must be included—must be signal—and this is still the least that I’d expect myself to show. To be, rather.  That I’d believe I’m being, whether knowing that I’d been the being-thus that I’ve become or…or not; such transitives can’t be resolved by any other means…
                                                           

                                                                                  o

Whatever this position now—this truncheon of a pause—it is what it will be, and nothing else, and nothing…It will be nothing more than it will be, it stands to reason, but that it will be more than it’s been yet—than it’s become—reveals another problem in the shape of it’s becoming so—it’s next capitulation to the open, to the clear…
                                                           

                                                                                  o

This it which I am now and surely will be by default assumes that if I speak of some identity beyond the narrow scope of merely speaking of it so I will be speaking of the same intrinsic speaking out again, that I’ll find that I’m speaking of the same I I referred to when referring to the I I’ve spoken as up to this point. Such a spastic torpor can’t help but to usurp the soon to seem invariable accidents of agency despite the selfsame difference—the insuperable exclusion—of what I’m speaking of from what I speak of through, by which I mean the I I seem to point to with the same portentous whimsy I employ in the apparent speaking out I’m speaking now…
                                                           

                                                                                   o

Let us say, for the sake of argument…for all it’s worth…for the sake of all it’s worth…Let us say that we’ve conceived of no such grand distemper, and so have left off leaving off without a thought to this delay—to the trouble this excursus is attempting to elude, if not yet resolve into a ready aim…
                                                         

                                                                                  o

If I were to here suggest that what will happen next, or rather…or at the least…or at the least and rather what events that, having happened, I’ll soon narrate to an otherwise inconsequent assent…
                                                           

                                                                                  o

If I were to here address the preface that sits fore this ever tractable look back as though I’ve always known how it will turn out, so presuming the existence of the addressee that you have quite surprisingly—and with the embarrassment, I might add, most usually attendant to such ill-apportioned and impossible wants—allowed yourself to seem, almost to act; should the telling of the tale in some way come to rule—or decidedly affect—the substance or the nature of that turning, then the moment of transition from account to mere performative will be signaled by a shift in the character of said terminus, or the telling of it as…
                                                         

                                                                                   o

Should it come to the fore that this very act of coming to the fore plays some…plays any role at all in the resumption of my purpose—the fulfillment of my ends, and so the promise to move on—then I would grant no quarter to those abstract insubordinates, an ideal that I have not yet pursued, or framed as cause. In the absence of a way to fully demonstrate my point, I’d justify its discharge by dint of the same instrument that’s led me to accept the imposition of objections from the auditor, objections I’ve already raised myself. What I’m trying to say is…
                     

                                                                                o

I expect you’ve found yourself beset by such change deportment many times before our meeting at this amicable stand, and so I ought not need continue my portrayal of the state I think you’re more or less most suited to live in, but I’ve come to accept that supposition of the kind oft proves imprudent, which in this instance is more than likely equal to untrue. In this instance indicates the premise is untrue, and as such seems an impulse quite imprudent to engage…
                                   

                                     o

So how, you want to know, have I achieved this grand assize? To answer would amount to the confusion of my means with my ends, at least my ends with my beginnings. I suppose I’m only willing to suppose your acquiescence…I only here make mention of your willingness to suppose such wrenching suppliance in me at this first pass—this  first passthrough—in order to allay the damp of those for whom it seems a second nature, that they might come to tolerate the repetition of implicit terms…
                                                               

                                       o

So. What I’m trying to say…to prove is that one can still rightly minimize—still sacrifice—the moment of confusion that’s coerced this wayward turn, the moment that’s confused me by compelling such contradictory ends. One need but think the guarantee by which I introduced myself mistaken—a fault that, understood as such, ought have no further impact on the this tittle of carousing goads…

                                                                         o

Merely to attest that what’s to happen next—so far as it amounts to a performance of that happening by being self-identical with fact—is a description of the many failed attempts I’ve made at doing anything… anything other than attempt to describe my many failed attempt whether any such
attempt proves failed or not, would relieve the sort of reader I imagine I would be from further concern. It’s only by beginning with an ending my beginning, in effect, still brings about—and by virtue of referring to some happenstance made real by the disclosure of a reference to that happenstance itself—that I’ve found reason to take issue with the primary this terminal incipience preempts…
                                                         

                                                                                   o

It isn’t much to say that any scene made uninhabitable…made practically unbearable by a premise whose insistence trains a contrary resolve need but ask of its presumptive inculcator the extraction of said premise in order to continue on to more propitious ends, but I do not do so—I do not say so—because I think it less than obvious to those who’ve come to view it as an easy perch, a place to rest…
                                                         

                                                                                    o

And it may be thus—less than obvious, that is; it may well prove a tricky feint for those who’ve happened on it without previous and parallel pursuit. But I say it, alternately, because I can thereby ensure that those wise patrons still immured within my peerless and incorrigible brood will know I have not foisted said first premise falsely, without having concluded that within that premise something still left€ unresolved resides; that I am not as ill-equipped as any thinking otherwise—any thought that I’ve pressed on because I know no better than to do so—might reasonably suggest to all those listless mountebanks who have hearkened to the song…
                                     

                                     o

If one might grant the vision of this tell-all—of this telling, really, that what’s been told therein may still amount to only part—as such a missive subornation, then I think the interlocutor to whom that missive points is halfway won. Her sympathy, that is, might be conditionally proved. And this point, rest assured, can only be rejected—let alone compelled into some promissory calm—by an equal adherence to contradictory ends; a registered receipt of what’s been pledged as unreceivable, if for no other reason than its having not been mailed. If there are any so inclined, I’m happy to declare, they’ve surely put the book down long ago, before they started, and so I have no need to try to keep them in the fold…
                                                             

                                                                                    o

Halfway won, I say, the very state in which I found you, as you know with near certainty by now. I’m sure you don’t conceive yourself as much further along in your attempts to train your quizzical departure into either an acceptance of the voyage still to greet you or—more likely—the contempt of one convinced to move along. Which is to claim…to here admit that I’m aware your being halfway lost has happened…is happening in answer to this salutary salvo, a practice I’ve adopted to promote such pained rapport…
                                                           

                                      o

All the same, I won’t predict that you’ll accompany my soon to seem insu€fferable delays with anything but halfway measures—that your continuance amounts to…will ever amount to less than the acceptance of the intimacy of my discharge, as a missive intended for you alone. And even granting your adherence—witting or otherwise—to such contrived resolve, the pose is only possible if you’re able to allow that I’m as…that I’ve proved myself just as aware of the iniquity—the contraindication by which I’ve sworn to make haste towards the prospect that this contrary portends as ready aim, as clear result…
                                                         

                                                                                  o

To summarize again, and this time for the first, this failed attempt plays precursor to all the many failed attempts it will soon serve to iterate…to unconceal to those who’ve found the strength to tag along. Attempts at what, I realize, you have yet to be enlightened; let it suffice to say that you will  find out in due course…