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


Out of the heaviness of late summer... 

No matter that it's been warm, lately -- there's an undertone to the air that's unmistakably autumn; up late enough and I can see the Pleiades. Spent a good deal of August wrapped up in a long prose piece. Usual twinging, nattering voice accompanies, moth against the screen; my fundamental dislike of narrative in most of its forms - memoir, psychoanalysis, other people's stories. To be fair, I do not care much for my memories -- a somewhat uncharitable view to take, but I'll take it, yes please, with a glass of flat tap water. Aftertaste of the word brittle.

No "twitch upon the thread," more of a twinge when I think of memories. How tiresome.


When I hear about David Foster Wallace's death, I recalled something I heard he said in a public discussion with Rick Moody, I think it was; an internet search brought up this. I'll leave it at that:
"...Wallace still maintained that a work of art that was unabashedly sentimental was more of a revolutionary act today than embracing the hip and edgy in contemporary art."


First Gent. How class your man?-- as better than the most,
Or, seeming better, worse beneath that cloak?
As saint or knave, pilgrim or hypocrite?
2nd Gent. Nay, tell me how you class your wealth of books,
The drifted relics of all time. As well
Sort them at once by size and livery:
Vellum, tall copies, and the common calf
Will hardly cover more diversity
Than all your labels cunningly devised
To class all your unread authors.

-- George Eliot


“Have I read the gesture of your left hand correctly? If so, give me your poems; hand over the sheets you wrote last night in such a fervour of inspiration that you now feel a little sheepish.”
-- Virginia Woolf

“I feel my arm and in a queer way I should now like to say. I feel it in a definite position in space; as if the feeling of my body in a space were disposed in the shape of an arm, so that in order to represent it I should have to model my arm, in plaster say, in the right position.”
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

“One language-game analogous to a fragment of another. One space projected into a limited extent of another. A ‘gappy’ space.”
-- Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Someone has torn up a letter and thrown it away. Picking up the pieces, one feels that many of them can be fitted together.”
-- Sei Shonagon

“The narratives have dropped away like those rockets that disintegrate in the atmosphere once they have placed their small payloads in orbit. Detached from their original settings, each scene is now the satellite of the other. Each echoes the other, increasingly merges with the other, and I experience a kind of fascinated incomprehension before the hybrid object they have become.”
-- Victor Burgin

“Fog was so dense, bird that had been disturbed went flat into a balustrade and slowly fell, dead, at her feet.
There it lay and Miss Fellowes looked up to where that pall of fog was twenty foot above and out of which it had fallen, turning over once. She bent down and took a wing the entered a tunnel in front of her, and this had DEPARTURES lit up over it, carrying her dead pigeon.”
-- Henry Green



The fragment deserves our attention for a moment, if only by virtue of the fact that for some it causes a technical discomfort.

The life of the classical elegiac poet is a life in the past and a life in the passive voice. It has been shattered and the elegist, sighing, collects its fragments, odds and ends, bits and pieces.... These fragments represent for him what is left of a disappeared original state, one to which they recall him constantly. The elegiac poet rehashes and takes pleasure in it like the Chinese dogs "that gnaw on old bare white bones that haven't had any meat on them for a long time. But by gnawing them, they tear their gums and end up with the taste. The taste of their own blood."

To the eye of the reverse elegiac poet, whom one can also call the tragic poet, (V. Cave canem), the fragments don't reflect a disappeared origin or context or unity that would guarantee their meaning. What in the fragments fascinates him is not their causal link with events of his past life, but rather that they are so vivid they blow away all biographical context. They shine in the present with an unimaginable brilliance, with a brilliance of their own.

These decontextualized units -- decontaminated, I should say -- are floating propositions in the image of European currencies during a period of crisis: propositions returned to an autonomous state that no context need legitimate further and whose sole guarantee is my gaze, as though I am seeing them now for the first time.

I select them empirically (V. Elegiable) like the terms of a discrete series. George Oppen says, "...that there is a moment, an actual time, when you believe something to be true, and you construct a meaning from these moments of conviction."

These fragments do not link together but attract each other by "affinity," by a kind of necessity or ludic and happy intention, by gay science. When two fragments meet, their affiliation engenders a kairos (V. that word).

-- Emmanuel Hocquard

Joy Without Harm 

The knot at the heart of it is the question of representation (represent or represent one's self). Heidegger, whom I do not like (to quote, said "thinking is presentifying, not representing).

The reverse elegist flees representation. Except in the sense of to copy (V. Literal, literality, literally). His activity is essentially ludic. Which does not necessarily mean comic. But he plays (V. Childhood). He plays with things as they exist (V. Zukofsky), with language as it exists (V. Wittgenstein). That is, as he meets them, before him and around him. He does not turn back, he does not dig. He gathers. His game consists of effecting (or not) unforeseen connections between the objects of language that present themselves, be they already representations (Cf. Reznikoff), which he treats as surfaces, for he is irreducibly superficial.

And when he achieves a good connection, a bold connection, he rejoices for a moment. Aristotle would speak of it as a joy without harm.

-- Emmanuel Hocquard, from "This Story Is Mine: A Little Autobiographical Dictionary of Elegy.

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