Floating Signifier

not here

Ran walked hunched over, under her umbrella – her black leather shoes, and the feet of her gray slacks, getting wet. She turned into Zibetto, and found a seat facing the window.

She got the cappuccino, blond roast, and a prosciutto panini. Ran opened a nearby newspaper to read. The music in the espresso bar was piping hot Bossa nova jazz, redolent of a faraway, tropical land.

Alli met her there, bustling through the door, in a black pea coat, hydroplaning across the floor. She ordered a macchiato and sat down next to Ran. They sometimes grabbed lunch together there, when they could.

Steam rose from her beverage, misting Alli’s glasses, as she took a sip, “Not to talk about exes, but Kaan said she glimpsed Dallas, at the Grand Hyatt, the other day. She must be back from Thailand. I told you about Dallas, didn’t I?”

Ran folded the paper, “Maybe you did, long ago. Remind me again of who she is?”

“She was an old girlfriend of mine. We went to Fiji together, once. Dallas went to Australia to do a semester of graduate research and I waited for her. She came back, but I never heard from her. She was living with Kaan’s former girlfriend Aspen, by the time I found out she was back in the states.”

“I see. That’s horrible!” Ran turned on the stool to face her.

“Dallas was the one who left Kaan to pick up the pieces. I moved on too. Kaan is still not happy about what happened. Aspen never came back.”

“Right,” Ran said, “Who does something like that?”

Ran looked at Alli with concern. She then turned back to the window, the street motley and the view diffracted through hundreds of raindrops. Ran’s stomach flip-flopped, as she took a sip of her Sumatran coffee.

Unperturbed, Alli also looked out the window, before tapping a bleating notification on her phone. “I got to get back to the office; I have to get on a conference call. Our accounting department rep had a fall and can’t come back after lunch.”

“Yes, no problem,” Ran held her hand and Alli squeezed her shoulder. She left a tenner for the meal and was whisked out the door, with the same speed, with which she had entered.

The streets hadn’t cleared, even in the rain. Pizza deliverers for Uber Eats rode by, with pies piled high and lashed down on the backs of their bikes. A bus knelt into the curb and disgorged itself of an afternoon rush hour load of passengers.

Behind the window pane, Ran thought of the blond at the bar, Was that Dallas? Did I meet the one who hurt Alli? And Kaan?

Another customer entered, raindrops rolling off a beige wool coat. The gust that followed in his wake threw the ears of her newspaper in disarray. Disconcerted, Ran paid for the food and stepped outside, under the awning. Thin streams of water poured down in front of her. Could that really be Dallas?

She stepped out into the downpour and hailed a taxi, trying to forget about what she had just heard.

sumatran coffee

A Donation of Sense


An instance of denotation, manifestation and signification failing to support sense, is Alice losing her name.[1a] Alice loses the name that denotes and signifies her. Hence, sense is separated from the three dimensions of proposition. There is a regressive denoting of further senses.[2a]  From Latin, and later, French – doner, donnes – comes the English word, “donate.” We are donated the “givens” in a problem. [3a] The problem preexists the answer. Alea, a game of chance,[4a] runs on lack and excess. There are no Ideal Forms, only forms, casts, events – points, sets, series, pips on a die. You have sets and series, with lack and excess moving between two sets.

In an identity, x = x. Sets hold various identities, including limits and singularities, placeholders, like zero. A singularity is a point or a non-point, like the eye of a storm or the center of a whorl of hair. In physics, black holes are singularities, rips in space-time. You could say singularities are points of pure becoming. A singularity is another point in a set; a point has zero dimensions.[1] Humpty Dumpty, an egg, has no organs; he is made of singularities instead. He lacks identity.

In losing her name, Alice gives off her incorporeal double. Doubles involve two entities going in two directions and good sense. There are the doubles, Tweedle-dee and Tweedledum, the Hare and the Hatter, but also the liminal in between. We have the Stoics’ Chrysippus effect and the law of the excluded middle, the infinite set, the limit and the convergence toward a limit. In the present, is the event, a point connecting to the infinite line of Aion, the ideal game, a line on a flat surface, the width, a frontier. The zero, the empty space, a floating signifier, is the ‘something,’ the aliquid, between the two sets. This given, in the problem preexisting answers, is the doner, the donation, between the two sets. Sense is that donation, the given – ‘that’s a given.’

Sense is the empty square between the two sets, the two series. Lack and excess define the two series, and the singularity is the event that provides coordination between the two sets. There are two sets, the signified and the signifying.

In the opposition between the surface and depths, the surface, the membrane between bodies and words, things and propositions, begins to break down and have holes. The body is a cavity with a broken surface; it is porous, with little holes. If there were no separation between propositions and things, words would enter bodies. Of course, this is not the case. In the world of depth, bodies are penetrated by other bodies, mixtures – this is a wound. On the other side, in a separate set, is sense, the event, an incorporeal effect, a surface effect. The surface effect, the pure ideal game is set apart; words are set aside from bodies.[2]

There is also the organism without organs, a body without organs, an egg, like Humpty Dumpty, or an embryo with undifferentiated organs, or a zygote with poles of cells, thresholds of potential. On the zygote are the animal and vegetative poles, active and passive poles of cells. The egg and Humpty Dumpty are points, singularities. They take in both sets of aspects – that of bodies but also skins, peelings, surface effects, events, sense – a body but a body without smaller, internal bodies, encased in membranes: a body without organs.

In the egg, this body without organs, there is no surface, no frontier, no difference or differentiation. The fish become a part of the sea, thus alluding to Humpty Dumpty’s poem including fish.[3] Are the fish apart of the sea or are they separate bodies? In this body without organs, between surface and depth, words enter bodies. Fire, water and air, classical elements, combine. Body and words become one – a strange amalgamation, like the portmanteau word.

Hecate is the goddess of the crossroads, the liminal and facing three ways. Circe, is an expression of Hecate, who is also the goddess of the moon. Circe turned the lotus eaters into pigs, a moment of pure becoming. There are lost pigs and other animals on Peter Pan’s island. Hecate and the nocturnal, connect to seemingly nonsense words: “lost pigs of the moon.”[4] Water and fire, classical elements, combine again. The combination of opposites points to the duality of the body: the fragmented body with separate organs and the body without organs. Peter Pan releases his shadow; both Peter Pan and Alice release their incorporeal doubles.

There is a difference between the nonsense of the surface and the two series, and the nonsense below sense and the surface, the nonsense of the depths, when the two series collapse into one. Sense slides along the surface width, between the two sets of signified and signifying. Meanwhile, there is no surface or difference between continuous bodies surrounded by their surface membranes, only depth. The lotus eaters are the nexus, the connection, between pigs and eating. Eating entails a digestive track from end to end, a tube, a hole, a tunnel, a surface of epithelium, running through the body, continuous with its surface; skin on the outside and the meeting of internal and external, inside and outside – one giant surface, running through a depth.[5]

Sense is the bi-directional line, like Aion, the divider between language and the body, protecting the body from language – when words pierce bodies, a wounding. Sense is the barrier, the mirror, keeping words, the incorporeal, proper names – and the body, bodies, the depths, separate. Sense is a singularity, an empty square, a supernumerary zero, moving between the two series of propositions and things, eating and speaking. There are two series, the body versus language and words.

Telescoping, Aion and Alice are unfolding, along an infinite line. Common sense, identity, is being eroded. The body goes back to being an egg, an undifferentiated body without organs. Doubles and doppelgangers appear in tandem – Hatter, Hare; Tweedle-dee, Tweedledum. The nonsense of depth is pitted against the nonsense of the surface.[6] The nonsense of depth, is corporeal; there is no surface or frontier – words pierce bodies and wound them. The surface collapses, pierced with many holes; it is porous.

The nonsense of the surface is the logic of sense, language, the incorporeal, the surface, the dividing line between the two series of language and bodies. The surface is like the surface of a body of water – it is easily pierced. Bodies pierce mixtures, producing surface effects, ripples. Sense is produced on the surface; when the surface collapses, sense collapses.

Sense is produced at the intersection of identity and direction. Sense doesn’t say its own sense – like nonsense – it further denotes in a serialization: n1, n2, n3; infinite regression, eternal return. Sense is the surface between words and bodies. A surface and the liminal space before it, are indivisible; they are two sides to one whole, like two-faced Janus: a double causality. There are two forms: the general and the individual, two perspectives,[7] surface versus depth. There are two series of singularities, with empty square and esoteric words, circulating between objects and words, bodies and language, signified and signifying.


[1a] The Logic of Sense, 18.

[2a] Ibid 31.

[3a] Ibid 55.

[4a] Ibid 58.

[1] Ibid. 80.

[2] Ibid 87.

[3] Ibid 89.

[4] Ibid 90.

[5] Ibid 91

[6] Ibid 92.

[7] Ibid 99.