by jdavidcharles

I have been thinking about people–what it means to “understand” or “get” a person–I mean, what the hell does that mean after all? I think here of the stereotypical Derridean mantra “all reading is misreading.” Sometimes I feel this way about people. Just as no one “understands” a text except in that there is some dissonance or difference between the author’s intention/interpretation-of-the-text and the reader’s, so is there no understanding of people except in the tension of intention and reception that we call the person’s personality (the inbetweeness of the person, the she or he that exists in the world that is between the self and the other).

However, this inbetweeness of the other (Heideggerian mitsein, being-with) can cover-up the other’s fundamental otherness. I may think I know my roommate well but there are still moments of surprise, moments when I ask myself, “I thought I knew Ian, but do I really? I never thought he was capable of X, but…” etc. There are moments when the being-with, the comfortablility of a world-between is shattered by us having to stand face-to-face with the other. Suffice to say these were the thoughts behind this short series–the event of facing otherness in what has been covered up by sameness, by the shared world which lies between the otherness of individual persons, which appears to me to be a sort of assemblage built slowly and contingently, shattered and rebuilt, and then shattered and rebuilt, piece by piece.



Some Sundays

visiting church or

family I get the feeling

of being spread-out,

naked, a leg dangling

over the wood railing

and God-for-certain

not one condom

in reach.


* * *


We, that is,

you & I, shopped

for clothes,


a “new style,”

something different:



slight of wind,

holding coats, shoes,



sweaters, and

I realized then how

much it was


like language,

like words in our



speaking, and

I had to tell you it

was like


this—and words,

and language speak

-ing mouths.


* * *


Sure, it was lent,

but sometimes mushrooms

and cigarettes and drinking

and love-making happen:

and when you walked

behind, down the stairs,

your eyes tightly closed,

(the blind leading, &c.)

and silent, I knew

then, that no one

was following