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


Le pas au-delà 

“While they waited on the threshold, far away, yet perhaps already leaning towards us, and watching us as if we were a single thing, he saw, falling over the face of the young girl, as the night falls, the dark hair that completely hides it.”
– Maurice Blanchot

“it — the sea” 

day of calend’s eve
(Concluding with a line by Rimbaud).
10:09. I wait for 10:10, then 10:10:10. Hours since waking, daylight, the coffee’s in my system, morning cigarettes smoked, some writing done and a small amount of reading: in short, I have made a head start, passed the threshold of the beginning of the day to the point where it has opened out into the fullness of morning. There is some light, but no lightening. There is a kind of slowing to the day. And what does it promise? The mottled sky opens somewhere unseen, an air pocket between clouds opens up and a building on the horizon gleams white for a moment and recedes into the backdrop of grey as I finish this sentence. What does the day hold but its own slow disintegration? A hard kernel of doubt is something I could worry at; concrete, object-like, I could place it in my pocket and go for a walk. A stroll, even: the word connotes a sense of ease, a lightness. Purposeful non-purpose.
But it’s not a heaviness that operates, presses, oppresses: it is a lack of lightness. The smoke clears and settles into a fine dust, mingles with the minute particles cast off by the pages. “The impeded speech: the speech that returns to us from muteness without passing through the assuaging of silence” writes Blanchot, in The Step Not Beyond. What does this mean? “I love what I don’t understand” concludes Susan Clark, at the end of her bibliography to as lit x: the syntax of adoration. What, or who, shall I not understand today?

the inverse pearl
Today, the last of November. November. The word, this year, has little purchase. A more or less arbitrary span of time. There’s a stone on my desk, I’ve had it for years, found in some riverbed, washed down from the mountains that border this city -- a place that’s become home more by accident than design, and I think of a day not dissimilar from this one, in advance of this ‘broken arm.’ It was the last day of summer. I went to a park and its beach, a place where I spent a good deal of time this summer - days in the sun, reading, writing, and simply closing my eyes and listening to the waves fold one over another, feeling the sun on my face. This September day would bring those days to a close, announce the beginning of autumn: the shortening of days, the coming cold and rain, the transition into a different territory. This autumn, having been first tasted in August, making its first advance, had now arrived in full, premature. The Sound was a deep blue and a cold wind came up from it, rattled the still-green leaves of the woods, battered down the grasses of the meadow atop the bluff. On the beach, approaching the point and its lighthouse, I came across an unlikely object: strangely beautiful and evocative in its chance contrivance. A large clam shell, roughly the size of an index card, lay inverted on the sand, anchored by a black stone -- heavy enough to keep the shell in place against the force of the action of the waves; waves that, in turn, rocked the shell and its stone, its inverse pearl, back and forth... A stony pupil inexorably grinding away at the shell of an eye.
“I want this hardened arm to stop dragging a cherished image.”



Written following the above post, & backdated so it follows. The above should rightfully conclude the month of November. What sort of writing is this? It often strikes me as terribly self-indulgent, the sound or tone of this blog-writing. Is it a journal? Notes towards a future fiction? A fiction, itself, in my shadow-game of omitting names, changing circumstances, exaggerating and distorting details? But sometimes, the vertiginous sense of unspeakable presence and inconsolable distance, the scene of writing, manages to assert itself. A wooden spool of red threads -- marginalia at center, self-canceling, revising, folding in on itself, its reverse chronology. “...then a ballet of familiar seas and nights, worthless chemistry and impossible melodies.”
Notebook. Eraser.


the world, obscured and then imperfectly reflected 

A week of fogs. Not a metaphor. Things are rarely one thing or another; the fog collapses in on itself, and the traceries of branches resolve into the forms of trees. Still some leaves hanging. The other day I saw a cherry tree, still half-leaved, golden brown - and starting to blossom. This was not the first one. I picked a blossom and a leaf and placed it in my notebook.

But the fog; it swirls around the stretlamps forming yellowish-grey globes: mist, light, neither one nor the other. During the day the fog thins, never quite fades entirely. Forms a scrim that diffuses the sunlight. Candied shards of winter light. Then, near sunset, a "golden hour" that lasts for ten or fifteen minutes; the fog moves in off the water and its shadow precedes the shadow of sunset. Again, not a metaphor.

This morning: waking to rain. Drifting back in and out of sleep. Rising, making coffee, lighting a cigarette, watching the rain strike the roof of the house next door, well up on the underside of the eaves, a line of beads, each reflecting the world, accede to gravity's demand, and fall. Slowly, then quickly. Then slowly again. Second cigarette. And rain, a metaphor.



A year ago- or two? -- V. sent me a slip of paper, faded chartreuse, a pale green-yellow with olive tones, labelled "this is the color of November." I saw that color again the other day. And today, a scrap of greygreen paper on my desk with a single typewritten word. Followed by a period.



A day lingering at the library; browsing, nothing really done. Passive observation. Passing observation... The quality of light as described before -- and then, sunset approaching while crossing the lake again, towards the setting sun, about an hour before sunset, the fog building on the Sound and coming in across the city, at once putting the skyline in silhouette and moving in unscripted lines before it, obscuring it. The surface of the lake glassy and grey, a dead mirror reflecting nothing; the far shore immersed in the shadow the growing fog, preceding night. I stop writing, wrapped in the non-event.

sugared days 

And today, a trip across the water: vestiges of fog & winter light giving everything a strange quality, as if some foreign place revisited; the landscape and the air itself as if dusted with powdered sugar; things held in suspension. Cold crystal light of winter. Yet, remnants of fall, burnt sugar taste.



I envy those who write every day; who muster the courage, the energy, to write -- either at length or with deliberation and concentration, every single day, taking only the occasional break. Those who truly face writing and its demand; I disregard the idle tappers on computer keys, the all too easy, disjointed lyricism of the post-Ashberian drift that passes for poetry, clutters too many pages, too many minutes of readings. No truck with those who cry out their love of language, but those who simply bear it. As it bears them; bears them away or quietly breaks them. Those who write into the damage.

Away. I’d like to take a train down to N. today; walk the streets of a city that’s both too familiar yet still offers surprises. I toy with the idea of moving there. Toy with, that is. Bangkok or Seoul are as likely. I've seen too many Hong Kong movies; I can imagine a life of drifting through streets at night, sitting in movie theaters and maybe a coffee afterwards, only half-understanding conversations. My broken English and others’. How it seems so much of the time, here, anyway. But in N. there’s a photo show I’d like to see; there’s a good bookstore and a row of churches where I could sit and be silent, and let the silence speak for me, to me. But I look at the clock and realize I’d have to run out the door soon, too soon to practically do so. Some other time, I think.
What?-- two digressions in that paragraph alone? I should heed my own advice; a phrase I seem to utter often, often enough. We’re all constrained by time; too little or too much. Overwork and boredom, like two different wines, have two different tastes but produce the same anomie of hangover. In this case, the advice is to write every day: write a single sentence; it need not even be one’s own; just take it down and write it. [And I do write every day; there’s a project begun on the first of January, doomed to failure: to write in a Moleskine daily diary, small format (at most, 150 words) per day: to take a thought and unspool it, see what it attracts, how it weaves and deviates throughout the year. The ninth of November and the end draws close enough that I start to think towards the end, when the second rule was to NOT think towards the end. I open the book at random; some poorly phrased expression of a mundane thought; another, an oddly resonant image. Was it something I had seen or ***].
I'm breaking a cardinal rule here by talking about a project that has yet to be seen, proved, tested. But why the rule?-- to speak of it would be to somehow jinx it? Or simply the poor taste exhibited in talking about one's own work?

I think of S.'s work, its openness, its ability to show, unvarnished, foibles and obsessions, defects, mistakes. I think of photographs and images; a stilled screen, a page. A serial, fragmented event. The world in fragments and this a black-bound hole, marked with a place-ribbon. The part that protrudes has faded with exposure to light. To create, if anything, a fake book to mine, to extract things from. Not a journal, though I usually keep one; six months may go by without an entry. I’m even worse there than here, in this digital notebook. And I never -- almost never -- read back.



"Ils veulent trouver la solution là où tout n'est énigme."
- Pascal

Gesture and Gaze 

“The image — alone capable of denying nothingness, is also the gaze of nothingness upon us.”
— Éloge de l’amour

"Be sure of having used to the full all that is communicated by immobility and silence."
- Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematographer

Objects and Gestures 

Investment in some vague future.
There are these terrible days, grey and rain-filled, the light dimmed, damning, it seems -- why else does night seem so welcoming? I think of the words fold, blanket, veil, _______ & something hovering at the, or a, limit.

"When we..."
We used to dream of a revolution, we used to despair: to write of depression or loneliness. Out of naïveté -- or to seek a threshold of hope? Now we write into blankness. Now we collect things: books from the store or the library, movies, random stones from the drowning beach, objects chanced upon in shops. When our lives were once moved by symbols or figures of something larger, it has been reduced now to figurines. We collect hours: time lost in front of the television or monitor.
When did the gesture wither?

I have a small metal typewriter, a tin canister of 8mm movie film (exp. 1976), next to a souvenir of Paris: various monuments collaged together in clashing perspectives of flattened facades. In its base, I change the date:
Lun 31 Nov
Mer 2 Nov
Ven 4 Nov
...How simple, the rotating of various cylinders to denote a fact. Is/Was. "It was the wrong time, it is the wrong time" we say in our defense. The impoverishment of time: is that the correct word?
When did the gesture wither?

An abbreviated bibliography:
Virginia Woolf, "Solid Objects"
Sophie Calle, Exquisite Pain

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