PRINT September 1971


. . . . I’VE BEEN TRYING TO GIVE some attention to how “one thing leads to another” or more accurately: “the ways in which one action leads to another.” That isn’t much clearer.

Apparently certain types of events and in myself certain states of mind bring about attention with this kind of emphasis. My perception of the nature of a situation (result of a vague yearning to codify “how one thing leads to another”) if clear, includes everything. Ha ha. Everything which I was capable of receiving. I’m often quite fuzzy or don’t care. Also every beginning is arbitrary. I have noted in myself the emergence of the kind of attention I’m describing and called that a “beginning.” I’ll write more about beginnings later.

Can’t trace back this interest, it must be something to do with being and being an artist.

Don’t expect to dispel many shadows. Mild illuminations. There’s no end of mysteries, each solution a problem.

Often, frequently, repeatedly, instead of just living through a situation, happy, sad, etc., I hear the artist’s mind-voice saying: “notice how this became that? Isn’t that like the other? That means there’s a family! Genus. Order. Classification of events! Sometimes there’s not much pleasure in it, it’s compulsive.”

Though I can’t make a “mistake,” I can “change my mind.” What a phrase!

Am I learning anything? I’m not learning much because there’s so much to learn and there’s so much to remember, I feel sure I forget a lot. I often have a kind of wrap-up intuition of the nature of an event, simultaneously esthetic, psychological, biological, philosophic, political . . . leaving a vaguer record than simpler experiences . . . and memory being somewhat selective (who really knows the mechanics of its choices?) the residue of this recently added “stuff,” when sieved through the records of previous experience for re(?)examination, often seems to consist of somewhat familiar particles. Recollections are (naturally) “stylized” . . . and . . . perhaps excess memory can spoil while stored. So in a way I’m pleased that I apparently have a poor memory. Infantile freshness. What a strong wind! Reality was and always is a form of memory even at the moment of perception of perception. . . . But in another way: I just don’t know enough to truly experience. Range of references. I can quote that accurate statement (whose? when? really?) about: “those who . . . history . . . condemned . . . repeat. . . .”

Have you read this essay before? Is it “original”?

Switch. But one of the many reasons why my observations are mine is that I don’t have many out-of-my-own-experience facts to deal with. Besides every event is completely new. What a burst of optimism! Not completely. They certainly can resemble each other.

I’m not scientific. No “ends,” no “goals,” no use. “This vague yearning to codify” is being reacted to only in the action of noticing “how one thing leads to another,” I do not have a system, I am a system. There won’t be any summing up. Perhaps there will. These observations are in my life with my work.

I’ve been led to prefer fortuitous personal experience education to searching out “processed” information: books, other people’s work in any medium, asking questions of other people. What “whats”!

Further clarification: In literature “one thing leads to another,” yes, but what we are discussing is noticing how “many events lead to many others.”

In relation to events one can only be a participant or a spectator or both. Of course one can also be uninformed (events of which one is unaware take place constantly, to say the least). But is that a relationship? Yes.

Experience of an event can only be anticipatory, actual, and post facto. Or prophetic, intentional, guessed, planned or total or historic, reminiscent, analytical. And in this (lower) case it should be pointed out that I am using your words.

Behind this attempt at orderly noticing do I have a horror of the possibility of chaos? Would chaos be an inability to tell one thing from another? Is sanity only the ability to identify and to name? Cultural? Is ordering the “disorder” an order? Can there be “order” without repetition? Is there something necessarily fatalistic but also “religious” in affirming (quoting?) that disorder must be only a type of order the nature of which is not yet comprehended . . . ? But “the eye of the beholder” . . . not only is order projected but all is order; all is ordained? The reason for the shape of my nose the same as the reason a bus just passed this building. Oh, that’s going too far.

Events take time. Events take place.

Named, scheduled events: bus ride, concert, Christmas, eclipse, etc. This is not what I’m interested in. Sub-events: not “what is,” not “what is not,” but what happens in between. In this case: “not.”

“Passages” then, wherein or post facto or in anticipation, I may note revelatory unities and disparities. What’s interesting is not codifying but experiencing and understanding the nature of passages from one state to another without acknowledging “beginning” as having any more importance in the incident than “importance” has in this sentence.

Or than “ending” in this. . . . .

Michael Snow