In via. En route. On the way. However you translate the phrase, there is a certain quality of procession involved, a word I use with particular care. No word ever makes its way alone, no text is an isolate, no speech is self-contained and originary, and so, for the word to proceed, to move in procession, is for the word to be always already accompanied (a construction of speech which, in its etymology, illustrates the point I am trying to make)—by words and contexts and connotations. So, we might say, the word is never in itself (a phrase with its own echoes, to be pursued another time). But before we proceed, let us untangle some of the knots I have created.

procession, n.: a moving forward, especially as part of a ceremony; a succession (of people, entities, things); theologically, an emanation of (the) spirit. From the Latin, prōcēdere, itself from the combination prō + cēdō, to proceed, advance, appear, cēdō being the Latin derivate of the Proto-Indo-European *ḱiesdʰ-, to drive away, go away. In English, procedere has been retained in the derivates proceed and process and procession. And so we return to where we began, the lexical field illuminated before us. Our procession is itself a part of a network—denotatively, a collection of individuals proceeding; etymologically, a collection of derivations and alterations and applications. We could push further into the metalinguistic, our inquiry into the web of a particular etymology being itself a process. But I will stop here.

To our initial list of meanings, I will add, then, in process, which I will define for our use as a generative and cooperative movement. This is the quality of language that intrigues me. As we define and label and categorize and specify, our semantic delimitations exceed themselves, producing new regions of meaning to be explored. And, as we do so, we discover new relationships, new connections, new entanglements of significance that demand our attention. We can never pin down our words, never fix them in stone—they are always sliding away from us, changing and growing and mutating, protean-like, as soon as we try to take hold of them. This is what I mean by a generative and cooperative movement. You will detect the irony, I hope, in this assertion.

But, far from despairing over our inability to take hold of our meanings, this inability should be seen, instead, as an opportunity, or, even more, as a principle. The basis of our language, of the capacity for language that undergirds every one of our actual utterances, is this shifting and sliding, the process of meaning itself. This is the rhythm that Heidegger speaks of, the form of movement beneath movement itself. There is no singular essence to our speech, no fixed point: there is only this structure, this process, from which the network of our meanings emanates. In speech, in voice, we are always on the way.

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