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His near stammering. With disconcerting promptness one word hid behind another. -- Maurice Blanchot, Le Dernier Homme Contact me: red3ad (at) yahoo (dot) com

25.9.05

approaching. slowly. 

I have given some thought to certain aspects of narrative, or let's call it prose, because that may include philosophy and the trans-generic (for instance, what is Cixous' FirstDays of the Year, exactly?)

"For instance..." A partial phrase. A possible beginning. Or it just trails off. But slowly. Slowly. I have been given to thoughts, slowly. I will perhaps post something on slow things, slow thoughts. But right now, fall is seeping in, bittersweet. The rains are coming, and the leaves are drying. Just turning, they rustle, and when the rain starts, it's hard to separate the sounds. As for now, for instance, regarding narrative, I'll link here to this Mary Burger interview. I am not familiar with her work, but I found a lot of what she has to say interesting, and pertinent to negotiating my present position, at least. A portion follows:

MB: Being roughly a generation younger than the Language poets has given me the option of taking certain Language strategies or positions as points of departure. The rigorous skepticism about a fixed, privileged subject, the sustained interrogation of reference as essentially illusory, the ultimate insistence on language as a code with a system of self-reference that precedes the things it refers to, are all concepts which I found already articulated for me when I began reading Language writing as a young writer. My own direction as a writer, and, I think, that of a number of my peers, has been to regard Language writing as a form of ground zero, to ask, what comes next? If language is ultimately a code, if all signification can be revealed as a form of coercion or enforced limitation, the fact remains that, as a code, language is a means of making meaning, if you allow for "meaning" to be something negotiated between participants, not something absolute.

To me the most interesting thing going on in writing now is the exploration of that process of negotiation. If you take for granted the discrediting of the unified subject, of objective meaning, how do you participate in language as a writer? How do you understand forms of language usage and the power relations they represent? How do you understand agency? How do you achieve it? To ask those questions, many younger writers have shifted their focus from what language is to how it is used, to allow multiple subject positions and social contexts to enter the work, to follow the negotiation of meaning that takes place in the spaces between those positions or contexts.

In a word, I don't hate speech, or the simulation of speech in writing. I don't hate representation. I don't hate the illusion of transparency. But I also believe in the necessity of acknowledging those things as artifice when they appear. The shift from Language writing to writing now could be summed up as the difference between stripping meaning from over-determined code, and restoring the capacity for meaning to stripped code."

4.9.05

...and blossom in purple and red. 




and orange and yellow and white and blue...


And what is it about Morandi, who seemed always to paint vases, and never flowers? Perhaps, I would like to think, out of respect for the moment? That the vases were merely objects -- to make artifact from artifact, and not try to capture what, in its nature, evanesces? I don't take photographs. Not that I find anything wrong with the concept, just that I find something sad, a sort of consuming lack, in the idea of having the memory of a representation of an image, rather than of the image/event itself -- no matter how faulty, or distorted it may become by time. JLG's Eloge de l'amour illustrates this, through the physical means of the film, extremely well. Despite my reservations, I've previously posted a Boubat picture cited in that film. As I've posted a picture of dahlias above, all the while thinking of the garden on Friday, where I can see a vivid red like fresh blood, the outer petals lightening to magenta. It was evening, and there was a cool breeze, fall-like.

"There was something like abandon in the air."

&c. 

I've added Long Sunday to the list at the right. Like This Space and Spurious, recommended. Recent post on Cixous, last week's link to "Exscribing the Garden," and a nice post under the Blanchot heading, all quite notable. And I very much like the idea of a group blog.
I don't spend as much time here as I could, or would, so I'll err on the side of caution and keep the list of links short.

Ah, but to err frequently - and joyously.

Retention. 

Somewhere in a notebook I had written "Retention colors are the only true colors." I have no idea where this came from; really, if I agree with it at all. The phosphene effect of looking at a bright spot and then a dark, the image / afterimage, intrigued me a great deal once. Perhaps this notion of retention colors is an effect of this.

I've been skimming St. Augustine, a section on memory from the Confessions, part of which I strongly disagree with -- namely, that memories are archived in the "storehouse" of memory, each image according to the sense by which it is received: "And while I reflect upon them, sounds do not break in and confuse the images of colour, which reach me through the eye." I do not doubt that Augustine was a more rigorous thinker than I; perhaps it's a disinclination to pigeon-hole things on my part -- but there are certain moments, sounds, or images that provoke multiple associations. (This juxtaposing & layering of sound, text and image is central to Godard, in particular -- perhaps why I respond to him so strongly. Wong Kar Wai does this to some extent; floating the sound from one scene over the images of the one that follows, irrrespective of chronology).

Elsewhere, I've been writing on memory, and the phrase regarding retention colors was recalled to me from its place in my storehouse of memory. An internet search brought up a discussion on "how color affects our memories" and some passages from Locke.

Reading the Locke purely as writing:

4. Ideas fade in the memory. Concerning the several degrees oflasting, wherewith ideas are imprinted on the memory, we may observe,- that some of them have been produced in the understanding by an object affecting the senses once only, and no more than once; others, that have more than once offered themselves to the senses, have yet been little taken notice of: the mind, either heedless, as in children, or otherwise employed, as in men intent only on one thing; not setting the stamp deep into itself. And in some, where they are set on with care and repeated impressions, either through the temper of the body, or some other fault, the memory is very weak. In all these cases, ideas in the mind quickly fade, and often vanish quite out of the understanding, leaving no more footsteps or remaining characters of themselves than shadows do flying over fields of corn, and the mind is as void of them as if they had never been there.

5. Causes of oblivion. Thus many of those ideas which wereproduced in the minds of children, in the beginning of their sensation, (some of which perhaps, as of some pleasures and pains, were before they were born, and others in their infancy,) if the future course of their lives they are not repeated again, are quite lost, without the least glimpse remaining of them. This may be observed in those who by some mischance have lost their sight when they were very young; in whom the ideas of colours having been but slightly taken notice of, and ceasing to be repeated, do quite wear out; so that some years after, there is no more notion nor memory of colours left in their minds, than in those of people born blind. The memory of some men, it is true, is very tenacious, even to a miracle. But yet there seems to be a constant decay of all our ideas, even of those which are struck deepest, and in minds the most retentive; so that if they be not sometimes renewed, by repeated exercise of the senses, or reflection on those kinds of objects which at first occasioned them, the print wears out, and at last there remains nothing to be seen. Thus the ideas, as well as children, of our youth, often die before us: and our minds represent to us those tombs to which we are approaching; where, though the brass and marble remain, yet the inscriptions are effaced by time, and the imagery moulders away. The pictures drawn in our minds are laid in fading colours; and if not sometimes refreshed, vanish and disappear. How much the constitution of our bodies and the make of our animal spirits are concerned in this; and whether the temper of the brain makes this difference, that in some it retains the characters drawn on it like marble, in others like freestone, and in others little better than sand, I shall not here inquire; though it may seem probable that the constitution of the body does sometimes influence the memory, since we oftentimes find a disease quite strip the mind of all its ideas, and the flames of a fever in a few days calcine all those images to dust and confusion, which seemed to be as lasting as if graved in marble.


...wch I find strangely pleasant.

"I thought about it again the other day."
...
"you grabbed my hand and we fell into it
like a daydream or a fever."


It's another long Sunday; drifting and indeterminate. It may rain; the sun breaks through occasionally. Recalling Jean-Luc Nancy, cited recently from Long Sunday (.... This reminds me of a very early meeting with Ricoeur, at his home in Ch√Ętenay. He had just read my first book on Hegel and, after opening the garden door, said: "This is all very well, but what about the garden in all that?") -- I went to the park the other day and the dahlias were lovely. And I've managed to get through this post without drifting off into some sort of reverie regarding Last Year at Marienbad.

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