Dr. Sarturnian’s Writing Machine, image by Pedro R. Rivadeneira
An excerpt from Dr Sarturnian’s Monologue,
Section IV of Song of Anonymous,
(a nomadic novel in progress)
Pedro R. Rivadeneira
“Fundamentally, everything that is said is a quotation . . .”
Thomas Bernhard, Walking
Dr. Alan J. Sarturnian, old, retired, multilingual, multitalented scholar, philosopher, musicologist and composer, now dabbling in magic, alchemy, shiatsu and astrology. He now lives with his twin sister Helena, an artist of international repute, in the Nordeinde qwartier of Den Haag, in one of the old, prominent, four story houses typical of that area, not two blocks away from the Queen’s working palace. Collapsed into bitterness, his eyes never look at me, they move rapidly from side to side as if frantically searching for something. Rumour has it the Doctor had a nervous breakdown years ago and has attempted suicide several times, events which have forced him into an early retirement.
The old man is sitting in his study blankly staring out the window with cigarette in hand. The room is saturated with smoke. He is a short, thin, wiry man of dark complexion. His hair, now mostly dark gray, is longish and scraggly, arrayed in an unruly mass around his prominent forehead and temples. He sits next to an ancient oaken desk on an old, oak office swivel chair that squeaks when he moves. The desk is piled over with books, papers and empty bottles. Several ashtrays lie about brimming with ashes and cigarette butts. He’s wearing a wornout terry cloth robe in a faded navy blue color spattered with food stains and cigarette burns. His scrawny legs are bare with the exception of a pair of thin, shin high socks and his feet are encased in a pair of worn out felt slippers, also dark blue in color. He shuffles his feet restlessly on the littered wooden floor as he sits facing the studio window through which can be seen bare trees in the darkening yard behind the house. I have come to see the old professor, with whom I studied years ago, in the hopes he will help clarify my doubts and dispel the crisis I’m in.
. . . something rules over us which it seems has nothing to do with us – the old man suddenly whispers - we barely have any control any understanding of it of ourselves let alone the rest of the world nature the universe . . . - he continues in a lecturing, somewhat pedantic tone - Proust’s notion that after Cézanne our perception of nature changed provides not only the consolation that poets extracted from impressionism it also implies fear fear that the thingification of the relationships between humans will contaminate all experiences and so become quite literally an absolute - he trails off into silence as if suddenly distracted by other thoughts and then begins again - of course this fear has come to pass - he grunts almost chuckling - a girl’s beautiful face becomes homely ugly even because of its similarity to that of a movie star’s in accordance with which the girl’s face is in reality prefabricated - he emphasizes grimly - a prefabricated face in this age of a totally administrated existence this age of total mediation the beautiful in nature passes into being a caricature of itself these faces these bodies considered to be beautiful sexy are no more beautiful no more sexy no more natural than those landscape paintings found in the lobby of a cheap motel which in any case are more interesting of more value due to their kitchyness which is their truth content . . . of course . . . of course – he wheezes on – nothing real is worthwhile extracting cleanly from what is ideologically its own lest the critique succumb to an ideology itself that of the simple natural life so called – he says with a sarcastic drawl –
wha’ happens is . . . I’ve been trying to write again you see – he is still talking as if to someone else, his back now to the window, directing his gaze to the wall in front of him across the room, next to the studio’s entrance – a writing experimental experimental in syntax and in form perhaps a novel I thought but writing outside the book or in any case on the margins of various books trampolining as it were from one to another at times writing through them borrowing burrowing restructuring and recontextualizing the borrowed material not necessarily pointing to anything outside itself if that is at all possible . . . for language is a system a system of symbols a referential system if not explicitly then it points to it implies other systems . . . if that is at all possible . . . self sufficient and winding in gesture . . . this may be possible if one treats or . . . re-treats language as material I thought that is to say taking into account its visual and acoustic properties only striping it of its semantic surface . . . but isn’t that word itself metaphorical? are we really dealing with a surface that conceals layers of other . . . stuff? or isn’t it rather an artifact of our brain’s perceptive mechanism if it can be called that an artifact a mechanism aren’t these figures of speech too? isn’t all language figurative in that a word any word is not the thing it points to but stands for that thing represents it and this standing for something else takes place in the mind’s eye the mind’s ear from whence it derives its hypnotic quality? . . . I mean to say its cinematic quality that is to say the film we have going on in our minds all the time the brain in a constant move to map reality compares and matches the surrounding external reality to its representation projected on its internal screen . . . of course all of this is figuratively speaking as well internal external what does it all mean? in fact this oscillation is what creates the perception of an inside versus an outside this oscillation by the brain this comparing and matching with the model the brain constructs electrochemically in the midst of its gelatinous tissues hidden from view I mean from the rest of the world inside the protective casings of the menningeal encephalic tissues and fluids and the skull’s bone . . . d’you know that the brain and its network of nerves including the spinal chord stripped of the rest of the body greatly resembles a Portuguese Man O’ War? oh yes! but of course it is by far deadlier so much so that the Man O’ War and a host of other creatures may soon be extinct! – he cackles nervously - what does that tell you about this organ of ours? this organ that we are the brain which has evolved over thousands of years only to find itself at odds with just about everything there is including itself and others like it? - he inquires turning toward me suddenly, fully revealing for the first time the entirety of his face which is smeared with a pale rose shade of blush on his left cheek and a dim shadow of mascara around his right eye together with a hint of rouge in the left corner of his mouth - well? isn’t it? I mean language that is to say always already self sufficient and self referential as when we use language to talk about in other words which is to say to describe language itself? and what is an itself in this context? I mean is a word any word always in a kind of synecdochic or metonymic relationship to the rest of the system to which it belongs? assuming it belongs to anything assuming language is indeed a system – he muses - I am always stunted by these kinds of questions don’t really know what to think anymore it all seems so paradoxical – he says screwing up his mouth in a kind of mocking gesture once more turning is face toward me – in any case how are these other layers which supposedly “underlie” the so called semantic “surface” of language – he says gesturing quotation marks in the air with his fingers - these other strata if we are to call them that if they are indeed strata how are they not meaningful themselves? who’s to say that they don’t in their own way contribute to the overall meaning of the text? and of speech? these distinctions often seem to me to be just as arbitrary just as phony as the body mind dichotomy in fact I would wager that’s where they originate in that false dichotomy – he gestures dismissively and spins around on his chair while tapping and shuffling his feet on the floor playfully, like a child – t’would be better me thinks to think of language as a complex in which several elements intersect I mean figuratively speaking that is to say the semantic aspect of it together with the visual and acoustic information each of these elements taken separately are already very complex the pitch and timbral information of speech I mean the spectral information in vowel formants for instance is a lot to deal with and a very rich source of material for musical composition as well what’s more considering that language has attributes that are said to be those of music such as rhythm tone timbre phrasing internal relations between its various parts and . . . silence as an integral part of its expression and that it is often polyvocal who’s to say that it language isn’t in point of fact a kind of music? . . . what meets the eye doesn’t make much of an impression I’m afraid if you are looking to jump caught between the Devil and the wild blue sea you had better look it over before you take that leap . . . I don’t pretend to be clairvoyant or I should say that can’t be said by me can’t say it is me who says these things that is to say a lack of a certain important kind of energy coming up from below a guttural understanding of space and mass you see I mean allowing for inconsistencies and incongruencies “erroneous” impulses and “faulty” thinking to have a “voice” as “they” say languaging not languishing – he gestures impatiently making quote signs in the air again - rather than polyvocal the work may very well be heterophonic or perhaps it oscillates at times periodically and at others in a-periodic fashion between monody polyphony and heterophony one’s mouth full of rubble rabble rubble one’s rebel mouth full of rabble rubble scrambled noisy sound bursts and spittle projecting the sound out through one’s bat ears and as microwave emissions through one’s multifaceted multi-perspective fly and dragonfly eyes! . . . drip-drop-drooping in the something to say - he chimes excitedly - all of this of course conceals and congeals the general state of lovelessness that prevails everywhere the vertex of which is a dry aching scab the blind spot that drives all our actions dry as flaking wax and propolis with the faint hum of a swarm behind the acerbic aching crust - he laughs mechanically showing his tobacco stained teeth, his accent now shifts from high class British, where the sibilant “eses” become the “sh” of English tinged by a Dutch accent – and how pray tell is language’s so called semantic surface not a kind of materiality considering that one’s thinking one’s imagination the various processes of representation that occur in the brain which are instrumental in the construction of meaning are in effect electrochemical processes that is to say material processes in the brain to say nothing of recent discoveries physicists have made about the nature of matter at its most fundamental level . . .
- rain has begun to rap on the window pane with a gentle pitter pattering sound as rivulets of water stream down the glass distorting the darkening shapes in the garden outside. Nervously, I fidget in my coat pockets, unable to respond to anything the old man says. Besieged by a growing feeling of anguish, not knowing what to do next, I decide to leave, but just as I start moving toward the door, the old man begins speaking again, barely audible this time -
whatever the case may be – he whispers gruffly - today it is impossible to write narrative I mean to write a novel in the realist narrative style which is what most do anyway pretending history hasn’t transcurred I mean . . . this . . . even though by definition the novel as a form requires narration where the narrator is the owner as it were of the experiences related as such the novel is a product of the bourgeois era historically it is an anachronism and therefore to write in this manner is regressive reactionary even utterly conservative the narrator as owner of the experiences related . . . combinatorial processes . . . – he mumbles distractedly - there is a tension a play between the various levels of meaning and the various levels of non-meaning so-called as if this non-meaning were not in itself meaningful assuming there is an in itself – he cackles nervously again – there is a tension as I was saying a play between the narrator as owner of the experiences related and the reader a kind of web or chain is in fact established but chain too is a metaphor and doesn’t quite accurately describe what really I mean physically takes place in the neuron networks so called given the enormous amount of apparently random activity therein . . . a kind of oneiric forest emerges in which flashes of lightning occur here and there briefly illuminating ravines faces and voices heard scraggy escarpments an entangled morass of branches and twigs intertwined the word network too is problematic you see but it is the best one can do for now perhaps web or scrub would be a more accurate description assuming accuracy is what matters after all we aren’t engineers are we? a kind of action writing akin to Pollock’s action painting the text a kind of scrub like that of straggly vegetation a tangle as seen in brain tissue consisting of millions of neurons with their axons and dendrites twisting the texture of the text varies irregularly it is not that of the typical novel you see it contains destabilizing elements errors undermining the impulse to conformity with the ideologies of perfection and completion mastery and therefore supremacy the text resists being read as the totality of its subject matters and strategies it having lacunae which remain unbridgeable between any actual reading and any explication of it – he scoffs – I mean the reader must use her imagination but he must use it to free herself from any fixed forms of thought which ordinary kinds of language impose on the mind on the brain like a grid a kind of harness that limits and directs perception and thought in particular ways ways which more often than not serve the current order of things
the new writing the new novel must take sides against the lie the falsity that is representation it takes sides against the narrator herself to be precise who as far as a supervising commentator of the events related attempts to correct his inevitable participation . . . wha’ happens is the author detaches himself from the idea of creating somethink real . . . listening to the whirrr where the words once were . . . gathering up elocution itself by means of an ironic gesture to which no word including her own can escape . . . listening to the whorls where the words once whirrld – he cocks his head to and fro listening, now looking askance at the window and then at the door – wha’ happens is the author watches himself in the idea of somethink real listlessly worrying scurrying about the world of words where once gathered enunciation means the iconic pestilence where words drool upon words squealing the new novel was a long time ago – he whispers hoarsely - perhaps we now need a new new novel or or somethink else what’s more to go against the form lies in the very same sense of the form itself the novelistic or musical form itself . . . perhaps a kind of writing without direction that makes use of prose as well as verse and other kinds of writing and different kinds of media beginning in the middle the muddle of which expands aimlessly toward the edges of beginnings and ledges without end writhing riding writing it’s trailing within writing as kinesthetic process – he mutters softly with increasing excitement - bodily function an excretion! as is thinking a kind of action! and reading already made to move across the page always coalescing you back into thinking because immense becomes tumultuous occurring and off course it shards me talking back into flinging writing as volition handles the thinking - he continues in a soft raspy whisper as if still listening for something - not since the rift between the novel and realism has been linked to the rebellion against discursive language as seen in poetry is it any longer possible to write in a narrative voice as I may have said a voice in which there is someone who is in possession of the experiences being related all that’s left now is writing itself I mean the physical act that is to say writing as kinesthetic process in other words writing reading and writing as activity languaging not languishing – he whispers vehemently – where language is the material say as sound-thought-image complexes to be manipulated and used in the construction of linguistic sound-image structures that convey a variety of complex forms and meanings I mean to say the reader is the narrator and the narrator is unknown is the unknown from moment to moment for each reader is different and even then an individual is never the same from moment to moment for we are each and every one of us time a different continuum of time but time nonetheless . . . it is the reader who is the narrator in reading the text the reader writes the story or perhaps rewrites the story and therefore rewrites me the writer the reader narrates the story if it can be called such a story if there is such a thing yet given that the metaphysical dimension . . . I mean the anti-realist moment of the new novel if I may call it that is itself a product of its realist object that is to say a society in which we are separated from ourselves and each other the more the writer strictly holds on to this realism of the world of the so-called real external world that is to say the more she tries to tell how things are how they were more so do his words turn into an as if and thus more grows the contradiction between the writer’s pretensions and the fact that the things related were not really that way at all! . . . writing is a long I mean to say a protracted process of editing mostly consisting of erasing and substituting it was the writing that made me vulnerable to their prying their restructuring my body and mind in the first place their electromagnetic thoughts protruding like searching probosci entering penetrating my territory my boundaries with a slithering gesture curlicue maneuver of parasite frequencies honing in on their next victim with glee feeding on the horror of society more so strictly thus things related predatorial contradiction grows for passive aggressive sentimentalization . . . I find myself being engulfed by language you see it a swarm making its home in and all around me disintegrating and reintegrating the me in fact grating me - he gestures frantically – a process of granulation in which I disappears and reappears into myriad I’s . . . oh the night has a thousand I’s – he chants giggling facetiously while spinning around on his squeaking chair – nonetheless I feel compelled to write about this I mean to relate to tell you the reader the listener through I mean to say with my writing tell you about this situation and the insubstantiality of the writer as subject tell you about my experience of the dissolution of the writer as subject as experienced by myself in the act of writing about my dissolution and in doing so I am in fact constructing a narrative about the impossibility of writing narrative!- he exclaims agitated - even as I find myself being engulfed by language you know it is a swarm that makes its home in and all around me disintegrating and reintegrating the me in fact grinding me – he gestures impatiently – a process of granulation in which I disappears and reappears into myriad I’s and yous . . . oh the night has a million I’s – he chants again melancholically – of course to say there is nothing left to say is in fact to say something just as the one who proclaims the death of the subject of the author is the subject the author himself herself but no the main problem with all such writing that is to say narrative linear realist narrative is that it is utterly boring! tedious really just as all such writers are themselves bores – he scoffs – what all that kind of writing really does is to reinforce old habits of reading old habits of thinking and feeling old habits of perception such that it would seem to be saying: that’s just the way things are, the way they’ve always been and so, will always surely remain! thus confirming the status quo thus justifying those who wield power over us and keep us in our current state of imprisonment chained to our destinies so called as opposed to say a writing a work that might show us a different way of thinking perceiving and feeling a way of writing that might take us into the unknown and so undermine the way things are a writing – he says gasping frantically – that is itself the unknown an example of difference and so becomes an input for unfamiliar information as opposed to being merely an output for old regurgitated information by which the current system keeps itself in power all of this is further complicated by the fact that the truth is known only to the one who experiences it – he grunts - and if one chooses to relay it to others one automatically falls into falsehoods and inaccuracies all this compounded by one’s that is to say my faulty and inaccurate recollection of events and things more so after my so-called accident as some euphemistically refer to it thus it is distortions inaccuracies and lies that are communicated the notion of communication being perhaps the greatest lie of them all! and the more one tries to untangle this abstruse web as I was saying the more mired one that is to say “I” becomes in falsehoods and falsifications . . . communication is a coverup; aesthetically pleasing this ‘n that in the passive aggressive blah dih blah: you know what you like you like what you know – he mutters against the rain - a limit cycle that keeps us spinning round and round in the indifference no new different information allowed sameness comfortable in the purdy please of conformity some knowledge garbage for the trash can lonely tuppaware thinking in the Cartesian ego center of reality ideologically proper this ‘n that as the hand that feeds bites off more than it gives – he whispers snidely – giving away globalization for free where the strings attached become chains just around the corner out of sight disintegrates me . . . – he snickers blowing smoke rings into the air –
I wanted my writing to be like Beckett’s mainly his short stories and poetry you know Echo’s Bones Texts for Nothing and such I love the dryness of the language the brittleness of it like dessert sand or the dry flakiness of wax and propolis in beehives the sounds tend to be meager dry paltry ugly even generally unsatisfying the raspy sound of dead leaves rustling in autumn that cold dry wryness of his language . . . or perhaps like a Pollock painting words drip drop drooping in the phosphenic light of night . . . but alas! I failed miserably my writing my thinking can’t be anything other than humid wet even laden with adipose moisture the body’s humors I was terribly disappointed at first because writing in this manner is said to be weak effeminate even but then I rebelled against these these notions such stupidity! as if weakness and femininity necessarily go hand in hand! as if there’s anything wrong with either! my writing can’t help but be alluvial consisting of flows ebbs and flows formed by sediments deposited by flowing water briny marshy full of the messy gurgglings of one’s innards! last night in fact – he starts excitedly - struggling with it myself struggling with my head my body each wanting to go their own separate ways the head is part of the body you see yet thinks itself . . . different better than the body . . . it’s in denial you see – he says snickering, then grunts through his nose - the mind the brain thinks itself superior to the rest of the body it has split itself off from it in a fit of denial the brain that is to say the head in a fit of panic wants to separate itself from the rest of the body . . . hoping to enhance my negative capabilities that is to say questioning my assumptions I devised a system by which various kinds of behaviour could be observed as simultaneities on split screens . . . subjective states can’t be reduced down to mechanical explanations you see unlike say all manner of biological phenomena . . . but nothing I say nothing I write or think is closed final rather it is frayed ragged torn and frayed shreds really . . . a novel like a model say a numerical model or a computer model may have a lot in common with nature but it isn’t something real as such . . . like such a model a novel may be very persuasive it may seem true if it somehow resonates with our life our experiences our experience of the world so-called . . . nonetheless just as we may question the model and the accuracy of its descriptions how much is based on informed judgment? how much is based on observation and measurement? how much is just a comfortable interpretation of data that suits one’s preconceived notions? so too it is with the novel where we may wonder how much the characters and events are based on real life so-called or just the product of excessive artifice . . . of course nowadays it is difficult to distinguish between these real life and artifice considering how minutely administered everything is . . . indeed as I may have already mentioned – he exclaims excitedly – society as machine a cybernetic system as Norbert Wiener had envisioned in his book Cybernetics not long after World War II and whose ideas were later to become popular in Soviet Russia who were more than receptive to the fantasy of such a society a machine which could be fine tuned by following the principles of Weiner’s Cybernetics all of which by the way would have been very appealing to the Nazis as well – he trails off - of course all of this has come to pass in contemporary capitalist societies where instead of using military or police force the subject is kept under control through economic means and information overload which in the end are just as violent as any other form of control - he cackles drifting off again – . . . I’ve often wondered if Hanna Wiener and Norbert were related – he muses – but all of this is beyond the point of comprehension too much work too complicated beyond one’s capacity to process imagine . . . the really comical thing about all this – he wheezes on – the comical thing about all those procedures as applied to the arts and by means of which the artist hopes to create unpredictability and so undo habitual forms of perception and behavior all those procedures which artists apply with conscious methodical and systematic deliberation all of that is always already going on in the brain without us having to do anything special to create them I mean the brain is an indeterminate organ a random number generator whose comportment is difficult to predict if you really pay attention close attention to your mind your brain which is the brain paying attention to itself observing itself you will notice that it is very difficult to know what it’s going to do from one moment to the next in fact while paying close attention to one’s perceptions it is difficult to know what one is going to see hear feel from one microsecond to the next . . . stupid! naïve! stupid! simplistic! stupid! naive! – he suddenly shouts while shuffling his feet - to think that by simply manipulating language one could effect a change of consciousness a profound radical change in the brain the mind . . . one problem with this manipulative approach is that manipulativeness itself is one aspect of our behavior that needs changing! – he laughs derisively – another is that the language centers in the brain which are in close proximity with that center that small group of cells in the brain that are thought to be the self the ego self awareness . . . – he says gesticulating impatiently losing his train of thought – wha’ happens is though they may rewire the neural networks of those centers themselves it doesn’t necessarily follow that the more primitive the older parts of the brain are going to follow suit the language and the self awareness centers if they can be called that centers . . . are only a small part of the brain the mind’s complex web of interactive feedback loops many of which are stuck in a limit cycle aren’t necessarily going to change at the flick of the language switch . . . I mean there’s much more to the brain the mind to consciousness than the language centers and the ego why it’s not entirely clear that mind that consciousness is located only in the brain as many think mind consciousness may be a complex web of relationships between the brain and the body interacting with the rest of the world a kind of ecosystem of the mind if you will – panting he wipes drool and phlegm away from the side of his mouth with the cuff of his sleeve – some scientists have claimed to have identified a small structure in the brain which they think is the locus of the self if this is true then one’s sense of interiority is in effect a material a physical place within the skull this locus in the brain excuse me – he wheezes frenetically - I repeat myself when in distress when in distress I repeat myself I repeat . . . not without a modicum of combinatorial variation of course I couldn’t bare it otherwise it reminds me of the human condition so-called
but I’ve been writing - he says again in a hoarse whisper - trying to write again you see. . . trying to regain a foothold in myself . . . but the pen . . . the ink ran out . . . changed to pencil but the lead kept breaking then changed to my type writer and as I wrote I felt I was plagiarizing . . . no . . . I felt the need to plagiarize it seemed like the only sensible thing to do the only so called original so called authentic thing to do the only honest thing to do - he pauses briefly and a loud guttural burp erupts from him - in as systematic a manner as possible! – he continues becoming somewhat exited - write a series of plagiarized statements from various sources not necessarily word for word you understand – as he gestures loosely with his cigarette hand a sizeable piece of ash drops off toward the floor – but mostly paraphrasing trying different permutations and orderings changing the context of the various phrases and so their meanings an ongoing never ending stream of them loosely strung together forming overtime as I write my reading because as you know all writing is a kind of reading and therefore a kind of plagiarism - he gesticulates, annoyed, as if batting at loose cobwebs - a loose web of associations and connections . . . leading me to believe that perhaps I should construct a machine! – he exclaims, suddenly livening up, shuffling around in his worn out slippers - a writing machine to do the job for me with only my having to feed it bits and pieces of language phrases words syllables sounds scraps of found language scraps and shreds of found language! – he repeats obsessively grinding his scant and yellowing teeth into the words - scraps found in the ongoing process that is one’s own internal monologue internal dialogues energy flows electrochemical currents and flows that is to say a veritable contrapuntal structure consisting of several voices a polyphonic structure consisting of several strands of sounds images thoughts dreams impulses and desires each having its own tempo and direction perhaps akin to those contrapuntal compositions one finds in a certain period of the Renaissance and finding as I’ve already mentioned these pieces of scrap these shreds of language in the environment as well that is to say the ongoing monologues of others in the various media through which they are disseminated and heard without my having to distress myself with all the thoughts and feelings the unpleasant ones one often finds while writing hurting myself further tearing at the memories the scabs over countless unhealed wounds my own and that of others the one’s we never find the time to properly mend entangled as we are in the frey of things
last night at dinner – he says wheezing through the cloud of smoke surround him - I said to my sister: “the idea of meaning is suspect to me because in the world it arouses the impression that meaning is meaningful, and vice versa, what is meaningful has meaning, but the only meaning in meaningfulness,” I said to her, “is its meaninglessness, I mean to say, meaninglessness is itself meaningful” I said this to my sister while she nodded patiently as usual eating her peas, “just as the utter emptiness, the nothingness surrounding us, within us, is somehow full, filled with all the things we like to call existence, being” I said again, “while at the same time, there is an unsatisfactoriness in being, in fact, it is unbearable, full of meaninglessness, pervaded by emptiness, because it is impermanent, it is time itself in fact that’s what being means, signifies, if it must mean anything at all” I said, and she said while carefully chewing a mouthful of beef – he says smiling gleefully – “I know what you mean, your insights have always been a source of inspiration to me, they have always inspired my work” – he says she said while still chewing, her left cheek bulging, fork and knife in either hand – imagine that! myyyy words my so called insights an inspiration! my empty lost words an inspiration for her work! the poor thing! – he exclaims again getting agitated – those incomprehensible paintings of hers I love so much with their bits and pieces of materials of scraps of different kinds of materials constructed in piece meal fashion why art collectors and critics from all over the world come to see them! she turns them away! they offer her thousands of Euros thousands of dollars and she won’t sell them any! she exhibits them herself in her gallery shows them to some of her friends and to me – he says approvingly - I have some in my bedroom they are magical windows doorways into other worlds windows into the implicate order depictions of turbulence disorders of various kinds one needs to be careful – he stammers cautiously, eyes wide open - they can take over the entire space suck you in you’ll never be found! – he seems to drift off and then suddenly exclaims - and then she said this to me: “there is the unending irritating tendency to think of all discourse as taking the form of a story, most people have the unbearable habit of negotiating their way through life by telling stories that explain who they are and what they are doing and they graft their stories onto the stories of others, onto ours” she said getting visibly despondent – he said – “upon hearing a word, as if a switch had been turned on, people are ready to tell you their life’s stories, their sad meaningless stories” – his sister is supposed to have said – “as if some kind of mechanism had been turned on . . . upon hearing a word, a name, a place, the name of a place for example, they are more than willing to make a connection,” – he says she said emphatically with derision – “they want to communicate their experiences, express, show you the commonality of the experiences which supposedly we all share . . . they are more than willing, they are in fact alert, waiting for the opportunity when they can share their experiences and thus show you the connection,” - he says she said with increasing irritation – “but it is in solitude that I no longer feel lonely, it is in utter solitude and emptiness that one, that I, no longer feel the pangs of meaninglessness and emptiness,” she said seeming to me with increasing puzzlement – he says - “meaninglessness is produced by their idiotic, empty chatter about the meaninglessness of life, a concatenation of catastrophes, a self fulfilling prophecy, like machines, at the flick of a switch, they go on and on, most people have this one, unmistakable, annoying characteristic” - he says she spat out with disdain while still assiduously chewing her food, and then he claimed she said - “the spider resembles the fly, its mate, a trick with which the spider lures its prey in . . .” she sat there impassibly staring at her food as if defeated – the professor says – but then she said with eyes lighting up, “we are, each one of us, made up of wildernesses, wildernesses interacting in a symbiotic, semiotic relationship, all one needs to do to understand this is to look at electron microscope photographs of various kinds of human tissue: skin, epithelial, lymphatic, I mean, the adenoids and their fluids; our blood, liver, lungs, bone and brain: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater of the meninges; the adrenal, the thyroid, the pineal and various other kinds of glands; to be sure you will see different and varied kinds of landscapes, each with its own kind of texture and colors . . . not unlike geological formations, or the textures found in different types of plant life both terrestrial and aquatic . . . I fancy them to be like the surfaces, valleys, canyons and caves of unknown planets and asteroids in distant star systems, distant galaxy’s perhaps, I see them in my dreams . . . these are the sources of my paintings” she said looking at me suddenly happy – he claims – “I pour over countless books on anatomy, internal medicine, pathology and geology, avidly studying their illustrations, I like the photos of endoscopies and different types of surgeries too, but it is the pathologies that interest me most” – he claims she said emphatically – “the so-called anomalies, the various kinds of ulcers, tumors and cysts, the warts and birth marks, the different kinds of skin diseases such as psoriasis, rosacea and eczema and my favorites: ulcerated cavernous haemangioma and elephantiasis” she said while ravenously chewing on another piece of roast beef – the old man smirks with amusement – and then she said “it is these so-called internal landscapes that inform my work, I compare them to the illustrations in my geology books, look for correspondences, relationships between these inner and outer landscapes, the similarities are often uncanny between the textures, the colors, thus implying a deep connection between the outer and the inner so-called, I go on like this for hours, I can’t help it, clearly a kind of language emerges from these images, from their relationships” she said visibly agitated with excitement – he claims – “a language emerges from these shapes and colors, these textures . . . or rather a number of languages communicating with each other, criss-crossing each other through me, through my consciousness, my awareness of them, my seeing them acts, as a conduit through which they, these languages, made up of various kinds of textures and colors, both organic and geological, belonging to different and distant contexts, the so-called inner and the so-called outer, communicate with each other through me, through my eyes, through my mind, and so too, communicate with me, instruct me, show me how a painting, a collage or sculpture is to be,” all this she said to me last night until the day began to emerge from the east and night began to dissolve and the machinery of rodents both areal and earth bound retired for the day – the old man hesitates, mouth agape and drooling, now staring with puzzlement at the floor, but suddenly inhaling, he continues in a distracted tone of voice – of course nothing could be easier than to go totally insane from one moment to the next the problem is not so much that she has something in her head everybody has the most monstrous things in their heads and these go on without end until our deaths anybody else would become unhinged but not her it is still possible to be outside time and find that all moments co-exist simultaneously! – he exclaims raising his head - play in the gap between them but these are all ruins I mean most of humanity has its head filled with ruins most human beings have their heads full of ruins ruins and detritus like myself she loves the debris the fog the impending grayness she gathers the fragments the fragmented and rather than trying to make them whole again allows for the absences to make themselves felt why the cognitively fragmented world in which we live brings about the desire in many for over arching narratives – the old man says with growing glee – but these turn out to give only illusions of mending the prevalent fragmentation anticipating a totalizing vision that obscures the importance of local events examples and samples of course the description of the fragmentation itself becomes a kind of meta-narrative theorists today while subverting overarching theories one moment create new ones the next thus exposing their hypocrisy! – he exclaims cackling meanly – thus situating themselves as authorities engaged in a power play whose objective is conquest the claiming of a territory domination as it’s always been! – he snickers mischievously – to be right always right but no! none of this matters! no matter no being no nothingness no right no wrong no description no overarching narrative no local narrative puaaaagggghhh! these are the strategies of academics jockeying for position trying desperately childishly to establish a secure a stable position for themselves ourselves a position of authority - he emphasizes derisively - even while preaching instability even while preaching the need for a critique of authoritarianism! these are the biggest hypocrites of all! academics! – he shouts - we are the biggest most notorious shits there are! with our idiotic self importance and cleverness! they are the most prolific producers of turds and consumers of blood who sodomize their students with their alleged truths! the truth it comes and goes and leaves us in the lurch - he suddenly entones - and now we think we can see it from our lofty perch – he chants playfully - of course of course but no! no! their cleverness comes after their idiocy which has always butt fucked it closely! all the various critiques of power of authoritarianism are privileged forms of discourse by virtue of the fact that they occur in and are the product of the academic environment to begin with! – he says pointedly – the ability to criticize is what puts us in a position of privilege to begin with! I mean to say – he stabs desperately at the air in front of him – it is because we are privileged to begin with that we have the time and ability to produce criticism of course with the best of intentions to enlighten on behalf of the truth the various truths we think in our arrogance others are unawares of as soon as we open our mouths as soon as we think we destroy someone’s life someone’s reputation is destroyed by our thinking our speaking our so-called criticisms we cannot help it it’s as natural as farting and as such we enjoy it it gives us immense pleasure in fact we revel in it! – the old man exclaims with joy scratching his ass and burping – why as I’ve told you already each critical endeavor involves a kind of mapping each description of reality a sort of emplotment by means of some kind of metaphorical language whether that of the so-called ordinary language we use on a daily basis or the more specialized languages like those of science and mathematical notation . . . but perhaps recent developments in poetic language or musical notation would be better suited for this purpose – he remarks snidely – considering how their overarching narratives render stable the destabilizing methods of writers and poets . . . while rattling on and on with their various critiques of systematicism and closure literary theorists philosophers and scientists alike systematically overlook music and in particular the variety of musical notations we’ve seen throughout the centuries from that of the Gregorian neum to classical traditional notation with its whole and half notes its quarter notes its eighth and sixteenth notes and so on all of which indicate pitch duration harmony and texture when grouped vertically or into two or more simultaneous melodic lines as we see in counterpoint and more recently – he pontificates wheezing with agitation - in the twentieth century we find all kinds of developments in notation from so-called graphic notations which not only indicate duration and pitch but also density dynamics and a kind of gestural language up to and including of course a variety of programming languages or code as they say used in today’s computer music! – he gestures wildly with his hand while catching his breath - these are all kinds of notation many of which if not all lend themselves to a variety of interpretations thus involving an element of indeterminacy and so in varying degrees resisting closure and the absolutism of the systematic but of course – he says still in a pedantic tone of voice - this requires a shift from notions insisting on the deterministic character of nature to one that emphasizes stochastic statistic descriptions why at the risk of sounding like one of those new age idiots the entire universe is capable of development and innovation! random fluctuations at the local level have the potential of propelling the writing the artistic work toward a point of bifurcation at which the direction of change becomes unpredictable! the work no longer emerges from the idea the story as idea where language is the mere vehicle for the story the mere instrument for the story’s expression rather whatever story there is it emerges from language itself from the structures formed from this material I mean to say it emerges from the different possibilities for construction already present in the linguistic material itself the language and its ever changing constructs are what make and unmake me in it I appears and disappears free of all intentionality . . . I will never say I because of everyone I won’t speak again no I won’t speak to anyone no one will speak to me I will listen to no one just as no one listens to me I won’t speak to myself there is nothing left to say nothing but dust will spew from my mouth dust blown by the cold wind the freezing cold wind that incessantly blows through everything throughout millennia from a beginingless past
but I mean I’m interested in this kind of thinking if it can be called that that is to say this kind of residual weed-like thinking if it can be called such a scaling down a solution or dissolution desolation dissolved in desolation I I forget – he stammers on - an energy more like impulses electrochemical impulses a kind of stuttering without rhyme or reason which is rarely steady and often exhibits considerable variation in intensity and consistency during one’s discourse one’s . . . thinking leading to one being resituated in a space unforeseen yet a space from which one can gain a better understanding if that is the correct word as if returning from a story whose speed exceeds that of life recently multidimensional I’m told a better understanding as I was saying of perception through attempts to represent dissimilarities as distances between points things people in an n-dimensional space you see using perhaps matrices of perceptual dissimilarities measures between physical stimuli multidimensional scalings attempts to represent the dissimilarities as distances between points and people and things – he says repeating himself, eyes wide open, incredulous – the consistency of findings and the complementary nature of the results in studies encourage one to extend the multidimensional model of being to other situations such as the arts music – he winces and clears his throat - the energy in the bones – he says with a sense of urgency – in one’s bones one end of this dimension is concentrated predominantly in the lower abdomen you see and its neural network while at the same time one must do everything possible to avoid Manichean dualism dualism of any kind in fact and allow for multiple entry ways and exits! – he exclaims, eyes alight with excitement – and so avoiding any pre-established paths modes of comportment that may hinder one’s actions thinking if I may call it that but whatever the self may be it is not a stable thing in fact not a thing at all! – he exclaims again – but a kind of process a flow which is time itself – he says staring at me happily with a big smile – there is no such thing no substance called time that passes we you and I are time experiencing itself as passing: our experiencing of our passing our impermanence is what produces the perception of time passing it is being’s passing its impermanence a kind of becoming and going if you will that is time itself! – he gesticulates excitedly – I mean the experience of time is a function of consciousness and self consciousness a function of memory and awareness the awareness of impermanence our own and that of all things matter becoming aware of it’s own transitory nature it may very well be that what we generally call time is not experienced by other sentient beings like animals for instance – he says calmly – maybe they live in a kind of eternal moment but it is the mutability the passing nature of consciousness of awareness in combination with memory that produces the illusion of time of something that passes which we call time a person’s I mean one’s mind one’s memory isn’t a neatly ordered file cabinet you know? but a vague and vast chaos of possibilities why as De Quincey noted years ago and Borges pointed out more recently one’s mind one’s brain is a kind of palimpsest consisting of strata that is to say layers of activity I mean a kind of chiaroscuro like a translucent amberine substance through which one catches glimpses bits and pieces of texts borrowed from other sources stitched together or interrupting each other texts with illustrations and sound tracks musical texts scores images in sequential order as one finds in films voices and arguments stories and narrative dreams a polyphonic structure in fact reminiscent of those massive choral works by Thomas Tallis it is by means of interpolation I mean by troping that the text becomes polyvocal a kind of hocketting if you will between different texts each an expression of a particular point of view or views each with its own voice if I may use the expression a combinatorial process a procedure of dialectic paraphrasing if you will producing semantic smears next to or near that is to say in proximity to the other texts such that at times they bleed into each other at certain nodal points certain points of contact producing textures characterized by discontinuity dislocation and this location incongruencies jagged white black and white jagged shapes puzzle-like slowly swirling round and round caught in a whirlpool blindly searching each others’ edges words and their sounds their undulating shapes erratically erotically bumping into each other never quite fitting in all this leading to the text’s resistance to being read as a sum of its strategies and subject matters where the work’s total meaning is a complex a complex of meanings of course this requires that the reader use her imagination – he says squinting at the floor shuffling his feet back and forth – but she must use it to free herself from the fixed forms of thought that ordinary language imposes on our minds one has to move diagonally one jags zig zags irregularly a-periodically in and out of sense and non-sense while still allowing for gaps to show between any explanation of a reading and any actual reading assuming there is such a thing as an actual reading I mean the time spent away from the work the circumstances that interfere with it financial troubles for instance its inconsistencies and discontinuities that is to say the identity of the experience life itself continuous and articulated which is the only thing that allows for the narrator’s attitude has disintegrated one can see this if one looks at the text I mean to say one’s writing that is to say the entire body of the work whose elements occur as it were as a simultaneity that consists of the irregular the a-periodic flickering texture of a kind of frayed tapestry that unfolds in time which is to say the text is time itself unfolding the writing time writing itself the text is a fragment made up of smaller fragments arranged in bricollage fashion and therefore never reaching a unified state of completion as it is in an ongoing turbulent state of disintegration and reintegration – he halts catching his breath, then coughing and wheezing, he proceeds with growing agitation - the poets and writers of yore had already noticed this about the self that it is a multiplicity a swarm long before today’s theorists did and who taking advantage of the general public’s ignorance of certain details of the past of our history have capitalized on those ideas that is to say stolen them you see and made their posh academic careers out of them . . . human greed knows no limits whether you are on the right or the left – he smiles facetiously - it is amusing that today our theorists many of whom proclaim the death of the author of the subject and talk about inter-textuality copywrite their books as if those ideas belonged to them as if they discovered all this themselves while at the same time setting themselves up as heroes as liberators . . . hypocrisy takes on many and varied an appearance – says the old man smiling gleefully – whether you are on the right or the left or somewhere in between and if you are a student you had better conform oh yes! if not without a doubt you will be punished for they do demand identity – he stresses - of course it’s all meant for your own good for the sake of your. . . liberation – he grins knowingly through the haze of cigarette smoke floating around him – still it is the theorists who have alerted us altered us that is to say made us skeptical about embracing any privileged account of something any privileged discourse by subjecting reigning views reigning orthodoxies to scrutiny and so uncovering their shaky and often faulty underpinnings all of which is necessary useful even given humanity’s general obsession with power and control . . . most if not all such orthodoxies when studied closely reveal themselves to be based on empty arbitrary premises which have stuck over time by sheer force of repetition . . . or just by sheer force – he winks at me taking a swig from a flask he’s suddenly pulled out of his robe pocket – they have shown us that language is not a neutral medium that rhetorical forms are intricately and inevitably involved in the shaping of realities that rhetoric is persuasive discourse and that all discourse is unavoidably rhetorical . . . all this reflecting a much welcome challenge to the language of objectivism . . . of course all of this would seem to be an example of objectivism itself after all – he chuckles helplessly –
nonetheless if any of these these theorists these poets and writers had an honest bone in their bodies if they were truly revolutionary they would let go of their bourgeois family lives their posh and powerful positions their bourgeois lifestyles they would do as U.G. Krishnamurti did with his books which are not copy written and which he encouraged the reader to use freely in any way the reader wants truly they are shits the lot of them their thinking and acting is still deeply conditioned by social and biological factors they are completely under the sway of their conditioning the cowards! – he shouts - they lack the courage to dive into life’s energy and madness like Artaud and Rimbaud did to embrace the madness they are merely privileged shits pretending playing at being revolutionary the bourgeois shits! – he seems ready to jump out of his chair – why I would strike out against them but the rule displaces . . . I . . . I am displaced from myself my body I’ve been displaced you see my body has been taken away from me – he says frantically - it’s covered over by multiple descriptions someone else’s descriptions of me my self ah ah – he gesticulates manically while gasping for air - aaaaahI’ve got categories crawling all over me! - he screams desperately clutching at himself – like insects spiders shadows crawling all over my body sapping the life out of me distracting me tugging and pulling at me dissecting me! taking my thoughts away they take my thoughts away! – he screams again falling back into his chair, breathing agitated, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out another cigarette which he quickly lights and puts into his mouth sucking on it frenetically, he pauses for a few seconds stretching out his legs staring blankly at the ceiling and then, in a sudden burst, continues talking in a loud whisper leaning towards me – they have done this to me with their machines those infamous contraptions their x-ray machines and their MRI machines which they use to reconfigure one’s body they in fact they remap one’s body such that one that is to say I can no longer recognize it no longer recognize myself you see? they reconfigure the body’s electromagnetic field and alter the electrochemical workings of the brain attuning it to those of the machine with which they control one’s body from afar one’s thoughts and feelings the ebbs and flows of the body’s humors . . . they remap one’s body you know? and project new different images onto it they de-territorialize it dismember one’s sense of self one’s identification of self with body they re-territorialize the body in their own image . . . I mean they project images onto one’s body thereby making themselves into Gods who have recreated us and therefore possess us in their own image do you see this? as if we were screens our bodies are screens and of course they project their various images as holographs not onto our bodies but into our bodies – he emphasizes pausing – it is into our bodies that they project their three dimensional holographic images so as to fit the three dimensionality of the body with its various organs and cavities taking into account the many layers and types of tissue I mean they project themselves into one’s body they etch images onto one’s bones with lasers and so by doing this they repossess . . . they tune one’s electromagnetic frequencies to those of the machine and by means of phase cancellation annul the unique frequencies of our bodies imposing those of the machine with which they control our actions from a distance do you see this? – he asks desperately - I mean that is why one hears a crackling sound the buzzing of insects in the background a kind of electrical humming in ones thoughts a kind of white noise static in one’s ears you see it is they with their transmissions constantly interfering with one’s thoughts one’s actions scrambling ones thoughts and desires with their holographic images imposed on the mind’s eye etching their mark on our bones in effect branding us
- the old man sits motionless in his chair, blankly staring out the window with mouth agape and cigarette in hand. A long, thin string of saliva hangs from his trembling lower lip, gently swaying back and forth with each raspy inhalation – all the faces all the voices blend into one face blend into one voice . . . it is the silence that listens it listens to our listening this unfathomable eternal silence at the heart of things – he says in a trembling whisper -
* * *
it is this kind of generalized delirium that gives the thinking its rich distorted . . . delicious quality its saturation with branches – he says dreamily - twigs turns reflections eddies and curlicues tangential planes and lines of flight only through this destructiveness can one speak freely you see it is only through this disintegration this destruction that one can speak freely think freely act freely there is no distinction between one and the other alienation becomes . . . alienation is nothing other than the total absolute freedom to be in perfect solitude and emptiness it is only in this absolute destruction that one truly lives you see and thus being all things at once . . . but let me start again as always with that fateful day the day I was barred from leaving the house my legs turned to lead unable to move all dressed up and unable to move . . . a bookish smell might be the paradise of many a fetishist . . . leftist fetishist . . . rightist leftist fetishists and those who identify with neither. . . a rebellion was needed to quell the thirst of those neglected . . . but I digress again once more I digress I don’t know what I’m saying again . . . walls everywhere . . . ancient walls of stone and brick veritable labyrinths ancient bricks here and there like the rust-colored grinning teeth of a corpse laid out across the way in front of me barring the way an exquisite corpse cackling as it crumbles apart farting with decay as if a bloated maggot infested sack of skin and bones . . . there are two of us now maybe more a multiplicity perhaps no longer the person the subject himself herself what is called writing languaging thinking . . . I am always resisting clarity – the old man says staring intently at me - which is to say in a certain sense I struggle against language that kind of language usually thought of as uncomplicated unproblematic and transparent the unproblematic and transparent transmission of a thought from writer to reader . . . but it was to be that my writing generates noise you see my writing is noisy – he gesticulates vehemently – it can’t be helped noise is the very content of my writing a kind of static or interference languaging language becoming a kind of parasite my mind my thinking parasitical striving to avoid information form redundancy and restraints not linear you see - he says - languaging not languishing meander-tall-telling and vine-yarn-yearning through the presence and absence of noises intermittent what most don’t see is that writing such as mine is complex and that the destruction of transmitted information by extraneous information that is to say by noise can actually lead to the generation of new meaning at another level of the complexly organized system that is the text itself what’s more in their strangeness and marginality literary texts can function as extraneous information I mean to say the noise of a culture that brings about difference in the form of variety in the production and circulation of ideas like for example here my writing my thinking what I’m now telling you may be the direct consequence of a kind of interruption a disruption brought about by someone’s writings someone else’s thinking someone’s work whom I read a long time ago . . . it can’t be helped my writing my thinking my mind and body are constantly crisscrossed by someone else’s words someone else’s thoughts someone else’s writing I can no longer say that a thought is truly mine that a single word I say or write is really my own it may very well be that I am a node in a multidimensional web of information it may very well be that we are all nodes in such a web relaying information to other nodes and so on who can lay claim to the entire network of information if it can be called that a network who can lay claim to the information that passes through it through us? who can lay claim to the language we use to relay the information? what is the I that can make such claims? of course things are never as simple as transmitter and receiver you know no not so simple as Henri Atlan would have it an organized system is not simply a receiver or an emitter you see such organized systems may contain within themselves areas of so–called internal communication an organized system may contain within itself channels of information areas which function as receivers and areas which function as emitters and the roles may be reversed what’s more the noise from one’s environment may intercept and muddle internal communication so-called internal so-called communication maybe this I that I think I am is made up of smaller Is smaller complex organized systems within other complex systems each one acting as an I my liver may be a kind of I my lungs another kind my heart yet another and so on each of my cells may be yet other kinds of Is the ribosomes and mitocondria in them still others! – he exclaims with excitement - the kind of writing that supposedly transmits a message from writer to reader in a clear uncomplicated manner that’s all poppy cock! not to mention utterly boring! it can’t be helped it is clarity that avoids me the desire for a writing that is uncomplicated and clear is the desire for perfection and the desire for perfection is the desire to be correct all the time and the desire to be right all the time is the desire to be supreme morally superior godlike . . . while teaching at college my colleagues and I were all like this insufferable really insufferably arrogant the lot of us nothing but vanity indulging ourselves in gratuitous cruelty and thoroughly enjoying it – he says licking his lips and grinning - . . . whatever any of that means anymore the left the right we were all petty policemen and women back then petty tyrants the lot of us demanding identity from our students just like the fascists we claimed to abhor claimed to oppose we were just like them the lot of us we were just as tyrannical just as despotic as those whom we claimed to oppose always demanding complete identity from our students punishing those who questioned us and our beliefs this sort of thing went on all the time – he snickers – we preyed on the helpless the defenseless students knowing full well that we were destroying them utterly degrading and destroying their lives – he cackles – it’s an age old story that of the privileged the powerful preying on the defenseless punishing the underprivileged the powerless all of life is made up of nothing but horrible and at the same time horrifying circumstances and if you look at life closely if you analyze it in detail it all disintegrates into the most frightening circumstances and states just as when you look at yourself closely if you look analyze yourself closely you see just how horrible and frightening you are to others to yourself and to others as when a famous and very powerful professor a very influential poet and theorist or composer full of self importance takes it upon himself or herself to punish to publickly humiliate a student in front of an entire class or in front of a roomful of colleagues during one of our festivals and the other students are snickering fully enjoying the spectacle bringing that student the victim to tears knowing full well he or she the professor the poet or the composer is destroying that student knowing full well that student’s mind the student’s life is being completely degraded completely destroyed scarring him or her for life for life leaving a dreadfully painful imprint in effect branding the student with hatred to say nothing of the sexual preying that went on – the old man says snickering - I mean to say several of my colleagues engaged in preying sexually on their students on a regular basis both female and male students were victimized – he grins meanly revealing his stained teeth – for years the head of the piano department preyed on his female Asian students demanding sexual favors from them lest he revoke their student cards the poor creatures were so afraid so intimidated that for years he got away with it scott free as they say everybody knew what was going on of course for years the entire department knew what was going on the Dean himself knew but not one of us did anything to stop those abuses those heinous abuses we rather enjoyed them – he says licking his lips again – we found them amusing we found the rumors the gossip to be intriguing we fancied ourselves sophisticates in the European style in our heart of hearts if I may use that expression though we advertised ourselves to the world as Marxists though we claimed to be anarchists though we preached the critique of power in our hearts of hearts we thought ourselves aristocrats and acted accordingly with impunity over our inferiors the students - he leans over and says softly - the privileged we look after each other you know – for years the chair of the Composition and Theory department preyed on his male students for years the cello teacher preyed on his female students for years the Musicology professor preyed on both her male and female students many of whom left the program or acquiesced to their demands fearing their careers would be ruined some of them complained to higher authorities of course but the Dean claimed there was no proof no concrete proof he said but of course had he bothered to conduct an investigation he would have found proof enough as it was he and the others were soon overwhelmed by an avalanche of very concrete proof when a group of victims decided to sue – he grins fascitiously – providing all kinds of proof in the form of recordings and testimonies from previous victims who came forth once it was clear they had the perpetrators on the run – he laughs maliciously while wheezing – it was a sight to see it was tasty I tell you I could not help but enjoy myself seeing those once self assured and arrogant hypocrites my colleagues who claimed to be Marxists and who claimed to be anarchists and feminists who claimed to care about the oppressed scurrying about in fear on the verge of a nervous breakdown I for one never engaged in such acivities I had no need to of course for I had a lover the love of my life the suicidal the experimental poet Francesca [Renata?] Squarcialupi indeed neither of us had any need to prey on anyone for we kept each other well satisfied engaging as we did in all manner of sexual play all manner of nasty sexual fantasy and just as she was fond of applying restrictive procedures to her writing in the manner of Raymond Queneau and the Oulipo group so too was she fond of appliying restrictive methods to us in our little sexual games – he smirks licking his lips again - we preyed on each other instead we all prey on each other all the time this is our way we all prey on each other back then we preyed on our students forcing our beliefs our ideologies on them forcing our thinking into their pliant vulnerable minds while at the same time forcing our cocks into their mouths up their cunts and arses just as I am now preying on you forcing my rancid boring stories on you and you are trying to prey on me coming to me expecting some kind of answer some kind of solace – he scoffs and glances at me with disdain - I don’t see why you come to me looking for answers! – he suddenly looks up at me raising his voice - the left is just as rotten as the right or the extreme center! the left the right in so many ways they reflect each other . . . but this was all madness! yet without the illness a kind of mock madness a kind of practiced madness advancing without the selfdestructiveness we thought but rather a destruction directed at the other that which we felt challenged our views our being at the center of attention pure egotism you see pure self centerdness just like anybody else except for the arrogance of thinking ourselves superior morally superior to everyone else especially those we regarded as our enemies it was all sheer cruelty really and we reveled in it! we enjoyed it thoroughly! – the old man says relishing each word and licking his lips – it still perplexes me when like yourself my former students come to me searching looking for answers especially those whom I took special care to humiliate in the classroom and bend to my will as I like all my colleagues my partners in crime - he emphasizes meanly – we demanded complete identity from our students no more no less than the authoritarian right wing conservatives we so much abhorred and felt ourselves to be different from thought ourselves to be morally superior to – he giggles fascitiously - at least with those shits those right-wing so-called conservative shits those disgusting conservative right wing pigs at least with those disgusting right wing fascist pigs you know what you get you know what to expect whereas with my friends my so-called friends my so-called colleagues and I my so-called colleagues with their underpaid Mexican gardeners and Guatemalan house help – he wheezes and chuckles convulsively - we were involved in an ongoing process of deception we were involved in an ongoing campaing of advertisement in which we presented ourselves as Marxists and anarchists or that we stood for social justice or that we were feminists and that we supported the critique of power and authority that we were opposed to reproducing the hierarchical authoritarian strutures of the past but of course in the classroom and in our interactions with the students we were doing just the opposite we were in fact reproducing those very same structures we claimed to abhor – the old man says – first and foremost we deceived ourselves into thinking that we represented a force of good. . . over time I found myself distancing myself from them my so-called friends my so-called colleagues over time a growing sense of disgust with myself and them began to take over me like a black cloud of smog a black toxic cloud began to take over my insides a spot of necrotic tissue in my insides slowly spreading its perimeter rotting me from the inside out – he whispers distractedly - over time under time drowned over the years buried alive I retreat into anonymity rejected by the intellectual left despised by the right ignored by the extreme center made irrelevant by all three kinds of totalitarian thinking – he mutters helplessly wrapping his arms around his torso rocking back and forth on his squeaking chair – I exist like a weed I live in the cracks the interstices the generally overlooked gray areas . . . what is it you expect me to tell you about music about literature about the arts their place their role in our so-called society our so-called culture our culture of distraction of mass distraction . . . all artists live in a state of dissociation – the old man spits out – they dissociate themselves from themselves and the world by means of the work of art through the actual work itself I mean to say the actual activity of making something the time and effort spent on the endeavor of making something they dissociate themselves from themselves and the truth of who or perhaps more precisely what they are the horror of what they really are which is to say the self centered egotistical cut throat murderous shits they are that we are I should say – he chuckles gruffly - through the work of art itself they which is to say we dissociate themselves which is to say ourselves from the world at large – he says – they dissociate themselves that is to say we dissociate ourselves from so-called life from so-called humanity for the artistic object the work of art to the artist becomes more important than humanity indeed more important than life itself by way of contrast that is to say in the face of the monstruosity into which reality has developed the maker of the work the artist becomes more and more absorbed in and identified with the artifact itself – he says – the work of art ultimately becomes a monument to the artist a monument to the self even while claiming to be selfless egoless and free – the old man smirks – a monument of for and by the artist to the artist herself himself it is the solipsistic maneauver par excellence – he chimes – more so today when there’s so little left to say for a long time there was no better way to call attention to one self than by claiming to be egoless but of course in a culture a society that is so utterly materialistic and narcissistic as we are all that makes no difference anymore it never really did – he winces – the heroic gesture of self sacrifice the heroic romantic act of self sacrifice . . . of course they which is to say we come up with all sorts of arguments all kinds of reasons that is to say . . . but these are nothing more than self persuasive self justifying ratonalizations – he says smirking with cigarette in hand – in this context the work of art is a kind of advertisement for the self for the artist the work of art is a kind of propaganda for the artist for the self it is pure ego – the old man says – all ego the artist is a fanatic he has to be in order to survive in an environment that is predominantly hostile not so much to the work of art itself the artistic object as it were more so if it fetches a large sum of money where it then becomes a kind of trophy for the rich and powerful – he smirks again – but more so the artist herself this human being who lives outside the rules and mores of pragmatist culture and who consequently stands in critical opposition to society a society in which media culture and linguistic systems rigidly constitute meaning the self reality . . . language as a system of signifiers and signifieds that is to say language as a denotative system but I’m more interested in kinds of writing kinds of thinking kinds of language that avoid semiotic analysis classification systems – he says sounding slightly agitated - language and languaging speaking and writing as flows of energy of varying intensities and densities a swarm of words of sounds wordsounds and soundwords language as aural and physically palpable phenomena where messages may be hidden immanent in the very sound of language where perhaps over time its meanings become clearer as the novel the writing proceeds with its jerks and stops playing a game with the idea that language is arbitrary that signifiers and signifieds lack any essential connection in this kind of writing – the old man says with increasing desperation – language is not only an instrument it is also the subject – he squirms in his creaking chair – languaging not languishing language talks writes about language language talks about language
in light of everything that has happened that is happening in our world today the arts are starting to look embarrassingly irrelevant self serving a mere luxury of the privileged a mere exercise in narcissism where art was once irreverent a rebellion a form of resistance against a reality which has become utterly unbearable now that irreverence has become irrelevant a mere cliché a parody of itself at best an image to be sold on tv or in film not all the works of art in the world put together can replace a species of animal or plant that has gone extinct nor for that matter can they replace a village a town that has been completely obliterated by our bombs but all this happens mostly by default it’s not so much as if the artist today the serious artist the one who’s works require reflection it’s not so much as if such an artist has much of a choice the more and more indifferent society becomes to art the more and more society becomes indifferent to thinking and feeling the less and less relevant art itself becomes and so by default the act of making art becomes more and more an exercise in solipsism . . . all artists live in a state of dislocation and this location – the old man snickers – they dislocate themselves from themselves and the world which in turn has dislocated them purposefully misplaced them the artist lives under the illusion that he or she is making connections that through his or her work he or she is connecting with the world so-called the so-called world the artist thinks that by means of the work of art that is to say through the work of art he or she is connecting with society so-called so-called society but this couldn’t be further from the truth for the more the artist tries to connect with the so-called world so-called society the so-called masses the more and more repulsed the so-called masses are by the work of art and its maker especially its maker the artist himself or herself the more and more repulsed are the masses by the very attempt the very act of trying to communicate to make contact with them . . . over the years – the old man whispers hoarsely, lower lip trembling – I came to the gradual realization that I no longer loved music no longer loved writing it no longer loved teaching it I came to the gradual and despairing realization that not only did I no longer love it but that I actually now abhorred it I could no longer stand myself all I felt was a wrenching guilt what was once a liberating experience was now had now become a new form of imprisonment I came to the gradual realization that everything about music was nothing more and nothing less than an unbearable tedium a dull sound from beneath the obstinate obsessive murmuring sounds of music listening to itself speaking to itself talking itself into existence convincing itself of its self importance . . . years ago I came to a standstill years ago a gloom closed in around me as if I had entered a tunnel since then all is as if a tunnel to me everyone I meet a dark tunnel all of life a dark endless tunnel I no longer leave the house the house itself is a maze in which I am lost . . . and yet . . . the tunnel’s walls are translucent I catch glimpses of the goings on outside the shadows of passersby for years lost in this cold gloom that hollows me out undermines all initiative . . . I know that one day I awoke this way transformed a hollow man a shell of a man – he whispers vehemently - of course it is difficult not to sound derivative these days even what I just said sounds derivative as I may have already said I mean to say everything I think and say sounds derivative to me today more so what others say what others say sounds even more derivative to me today what people say and think today if one can call it that thinking sounds utterly derivative these days everything one reads today in the papers in the so-called specialized magazines sounds utterly derivative and utterly unimaginative and most of all utterly repetitive it is all utterly repetitive utterly redundant everything one reads and hears today is utterly repetitive and redundant one has heard it all over and over again decades ago decade after decade the same useless tripe decade after endless decade the endless tedium of humanity the endless tedium of the so-called human the so-called human condition the so-called human and its self importance as if that’s all there is to life as if we human beings whatever that may mean were the center of the universe as if we were all there is in this world this universe and of course pretty soon that’s the way it’s going to be! only us for we are exterminating everything . . . everything one reads these days is nothing more than derivative tripe to be sure one’s manner of reading is itself derivative and formulaic one reads with a habitual a formulaic mind set I mean to say the manner in which one reads the manner in which one interprets and thinks about what one reads is most likely derivative and formulaic everything one reads and is forced to hear people say not to mention everything one hears and sees on radio and tv these days it’s all derivative tripe it is maddening one feels like a rat trapped in a maze made of derivative thinking derivative talking and derivative writing a maze made up of stock phrases and derivative formulaic thinking the maddening tedium of it all! no longer can one escape from the maddening tedium of all these derivative thoughts and stock phrases thrown at one from all quarters no longer can I escape such crushing tedium by reading some of my favorite literature of which there are countless examples from all historical periods no longer do I find solace in The Tempest or The Winter’s Tale my favorite plays or the writings of Kafka Joyce and Beckett Bernhard Canetti and Cortázar no after years of close reading of all these and others my favorite authors I no longer find solace even they my favorite authors after years of close reading now-a-days sound utterly derivative and redundant all too familiar overdone just downright boring and meaningless if you ask me pointless I would say why even the so-called new so-called experimental poetry of the so-called Language poets is nothing more and nothing less than more of the same reminiscent of the experimental writings of Stein the Futurists the Sound poets the Concrete poets the Objectivists the Noveau Roman the Pataphysicists the Oulipo group the Group m and countless others even they after years of close reading after countless years of close reading of detailed thinking and analysis even they my favorite writers and thinkers my favorite theorists all sound utterly derivative all too familiar grossly overdone this is why one day I stopped writing this is why one day I just had to stop I had to stop writing all together I came to a complete halt no longer able to write a single word not a single syllable not a single letter no longer able to articulate a single thought in writing that didn’t seem derivative I came to a complete stop it is difficult to know what to write anymore what one needs to write let alone what the historical necessecity is for such writing or if there even is such a thing as a historical necessity to begin with – the old man says - of course there are those who in the past have taken it upon themselves to attack me accussing me of being a money grubbing fame searching plagiarist an unskilled imitator who steals lines from more original more authentic writers – the old man says – but this notion itself as I may have already said is no longer original no longer authentic I mean to say this notion of originality is itself not original not authentic it is itself a kind of stolen idea a kind of plagiarism a mere cliché this idea of originality is itself a stolen concept a plagiarized concept such notions being artifacts mere relics left-overs from Romanticism such ideas are left-overs from the Romantic era and are therefore no longer relevant in this our twenty first century being as we are at the end of history at the end of our age the age of exhaustion the exhaustion of ideas all that’s left us now is this age of monuments and ruins this age of museum pieces and ruins as usual it is thieves who sit in judgement of thieves the difference lies in who has the power the power to do the accusing and implement the punishment there is nothing original about any of that nothing at all – the old man says – why language itself is inherited the language itself with which we construct the various criticisms of originality the criticism of authenticity this language itself is inherited not original not authentic and the concepts constructed therewith are not original not authentic all plagiarized the verbal construct that’s been done before has already been written and said before a million times over and therefore in keeping with its own logic its own criticism is not a valid statement it annuls itself even as we speak it even as we think it to say that’s been done before has been said before has been thought before and as such in effect has been done before! if to say that’s been done before invalidates a work because supposedly it is a reproduction of a previous work a previous event then the statement that’s been done before is just as invalid because it’s been said before which is to say it’s been done before such a statement by force of it’s own logic invalidates itself not to mention that it is a cut throat thing to say a mean spirited thing to say born of nasty competitiveness the sole purpose of which is to establish superiority and yet . . . and yet . . . – he suddenly stops and cocks his head from left to right and back again as if listening for something - if one isn’t allowed to think that’s been done before if one isn’t allowed to say that’s been done before derivative as all that may be how can we come about with anything new any new ideas how can we avoid being merely redundant? assumming of course that novelty is what matters what one is striving for I mean just because somethink a book a piece of music is new it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is important I mean to say that it is somethink worth paying attention to worth our thoughts our reflection lord knows there are plenty of so-called new works which really have nothing to say that offer no insights have nothing to say other than look at me I’m new! look at me! I have skills! - he says with derission - blah dih blah dih blah! so what!? who cares!? – he says - if the sole criteria for a work’s value is that it be new that it be skillfully made then it’s just as empty as any of the products of the so-called entertainment industry those weapons of mass distraction that are forced upon us everyday – the old man emphasizes sarcastically - just as vapid just as vacuous just as insipid cynical and phoney as any of the commercial concoctions found on the various hit lists the various best seller lists one gets shoved in one’s face on a daily basis all such products all so-called popular music all so-called popular literature is to music is to literature what fast foods are to real good delicious nutritious food all such music such so-called literature is nothing more than the disposable products of a consumer society out of control empty nothing more and nothing less what’s more just because a composition a novel is presented as an artifact of high culture and so presents itself as an alternative to the products of consumer society presents itself as an alternative to consumer society it doesn’t necessarily follow that it has anything important to say it doesn’t necessarily follow that it offers our senses our feelings and thinking our spirit anything to learn any meaningful insights into our reality more often than not such works are no more than an empty façade a sheer waste of time nothing more and nothing less – he says gleefully, savouring every invective and then continues spitting out in a frenzy - language is always saying more than we want it to say it has a tendency to undermine itself even to turn against itself one might seem a word here you might see a word there a figure the relation to what is present what purports to present itself in this vanishing this chiaroscuro what we would know were it simply a question of somethink to know to play with a reinvention of the surface what reappears creaking squeaking crackling or screaming the reflection of an abyss which returns nothing returns us to nothing opening the hollow of a labyrinth beneath the appearance of a surface of a fold a folding forever a folding becoming unfolding unraveling the unrevealing beginning in an experience involving one’s hands one’s eyes voice and ears one’s body one replies exactly to a question wrapped enfolded in the answer of the scene excused for not of this name naming while at the same time unrevealing as does a revelation involve invoke a concealing a consealment a con seal meant – he whispers - in any case who can claim exclusive ownership of the language we speak on a daily basis? who can claim exclusive authorship of our common language? of all so-called natural languages? who can rightfully claim exclusive authorship of our language and all its parts all its words all its expressions all its figures and mannerisms who can claim exclusive ownership of a particular ordering of its elements? a particular ordering of its words? a particular sequence of words? a particular phrase? a particular sentence? these are all verbal constructs which have occurred again and again throughout the course of history a long chain of permutations whose orderings are more or less arbitrary and whose origins remain largely unknown who knows when the first word was uttered? when the first thought was thought? even to say we as a nation as a culture have created the language this language with which we express ourselves and like to think we communicate with each other on a daily basis this language with which I now attempt in vain to communicate with you to say that we as a nation as a culture have created this language is utterly absurd utterly arrogant just who are this we those idiotic nationalists and purists are referring to? to make such claims is not only idiotic it is utterly derivative all such claims are utterly derivative devoid of any originality devoid of any authenticity such thinking if it can be called that is utterly derivative utterly formulaic all such thinking sounds utterly derivative these days all such pronouncements such criticisms one hears in the media in the so-called specialized magazines sound utterly derivative and utterly unimaginative and most of all utterly repetitive it is all utterly repetitive utterly redundant everything one reads and hears today is utterly repetitive and redundant – the old man says - one has heard it all over and over again decades ago decade after decade the same useless tripe decade after endless decade the endless tedium of humanity the endless tedium of the so-called human the so-called human condition the so-called human and its self importance as if that’s all there is to life as if that were all there is to this vast mostly unknown universe we’re in it is maddening! one feels like an animal trapped in a maddening labyrinth a labyrinth made of derivative thinking derivative talking and derivative writing a maze made up of stock phrases and derivative formulaic thinking the maddening tedium of it all! no longer can I escape from the maddening tedium of all these derivative thoughts and stock phrases that are forced upon me from all quarters no longer can I escape such crushing tedium such mind numbing idiocy by listening to some of my favorite composers of which there are countless examples from all historical periods no longer can I find consolation no not even in Boethius – he mutters snickering - or by studying and listening to my favorite composers no longer do I find solace in Hildegard von Bingen’s Alleluia, O virga Mediatrix or Machaut’s Messe de Notre Dame nor for that matter Dufay’s motet Nuper Rosarum Flores or my all time favorite Ockeghem’s Requiem! – he says with increasing agitation - what’s more I can no longer escape this condition this crushing tedium by listening to Josquin’s Ave Maris Stella or Pallestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass nor for that matter my all time favorites the madrigals of the marvelously dark the murderous Carlo Gesudaldo! not to mention the madrigals of Monteverdi and Arcadelt! – the old man exclaims with increasing excitement – no longer can I escape this paralyzing boredom by reveling in Archangelo Corelli’s Trio Sonatas or by meditating on J.S. Bach’s partitas and sonatas for solo violin or Mozart’s Divertimenti! no! nor do Beethoven’s late quartets satisfy nor do the fantastic Nocturnes by Chopin or any of Brahms’ works nor for that matter my all time favorite Mahler’s Fourth! – he exclaims almost shouting, bouncing up and down in his squeaking chair – no no longer can I find pleasure in Debussy’s Jeux or Stravinsky Rite of Spring nor do I derive any intellectual satisfaction from the works of the New Viennese School Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire Webern’s Five Movements for String Quartet or for that matter my all time favorite Berg’s Lyric Suite! – he shouts clasping his hands together and raising his eyes toward the ceiling imploringly – no no longer can I escape this agonizing condition I have fallen into by listening to my favorite avant garde composers that revolutionary master piece of musique concrète Symphony pour une Homme Seul by Pierre Shaefer and Pierre Henry or Stockhausen’s Kontakte and Microphonie no none of those manage to pique my interest anymore neither do Cage’s marvelous compositions for prepared piano or Feldman’s Durations or Milton Babbitt’s mysterious Philomel for computer and voice not even the wonderfully poetic so-called acousmatic compositions by Parmigiani his De Natura Sonorum for instance no none of those any longer provide me with any kind of pleasure or interest no longer can I escape this petrifying condition I’ve fallen into this petrifying condition I’ve fallen prey to this insidious condition that’s taken over me body and mind by listening to Ligeti’s Atmospheres or anything by Xennakis anything really – he says softly, as if suddenly distracted, blowing smoke through his nostrils – nor does La Cuhte d’Icare by Ferneyhough provide me with any intellectual pleasure or the amazing sound compositions by Helmut Lachenmann such as his Les Consolations or Salvatore Sciarrino’s Sui Poemi Concentrici or the enigmatic this(continuity) by the equally enigmatic and reclusive Peter Riverdale or Harry Partch’s wondrous Bewitched or for that matter my all time favorite that incomparable noise music theater Hellhörig by Carola Bauckholt! – he says whimpering, sinking back into his chair in resignation -
no even they all of them now after all these years of close listening and study are dead to me empty shells meaningless they all sound overdone empty utterly derivative all too familiar – the old man says – empty really they’re all empty this is why one day I just stopped composing I came to a complete halt this is why one day I could not write a single note not a single quaver or semiquaver I could not articulate a single musical idea it became blatantly obvious that it is very difficult to know what to write anymore what one needs to write let alone the historical necessity if there is such a necessity at all one day I just had to stop I had to stop trying one day I just stopped trying I couldn’t go on anymore for a long time I would torment myself by trying over and over again to write something to compose something please I would say just let me write on more meaningful musical idea just let me write one more original musical idea one more musical idea that doesn’t sound derivative this I would say to whom? to what? I don’t know perhaps to myself I would implore like this I would implore humiliate myself to whomever to whatever by begging in this manner I would say please just one more musical idea just one more piece with some semblance of originality one more fragment which I could then if nothing else repeat over and over again and at least sound contemporaneous with the so-called minimalists and their so-called minimalism – he says emphatically, staring at me with glaring eyes – let me at least repeat myself in this most tedious manner and so be contemporaneous with my minimalist colleagues – he winces taking another drag from his cigarette - let me at least repeat myself this little musical idea of mine as I’ve already said let me repeat it in this most insidious this most annoying and irritating manner and thus by force of sheer redundancy that is to say by means of sheer brute force force it upon myself make myself believe in it make myself feel it is meaningful convince myself I am doing something meaningful maybe not entirely original maybe not entirely authentic but at least by force of sheer repetition create a context which would provide some semblance of meaning to this little musical idea of mine and so in this manner convince myself it is meaningful convince myself I am doing something meaningful – he says impatiently shuffling his feet on the dusty floor – my so-called colleagues my so-called minimalist colleagues all this I would say to myself - he wheezes on - think to myself all this yet knowing full well that to say such things to have such aspirations is itself derivative old hat cliché over worn
worn out over done done a million times over refried beans as they say – he laughs snidely and begins coughing - all of this of course stems from my pathology the fact that I am prone to illness and how the sickness has spread throughout my entire system slowly but surely leading to my complete breakdown the complete hollowing out of my body and mind the gradual drying and shriveling up of all my internal organs which I know have crumbled into dust and spewed out of all my orifices like spores of an unknown fungus – he whispers again wheezing – now all that’s left me are echoes echoes of thoughts reverberate through my empty skull their interference patterns criss cross the insides of my empty hollowed out organless body the entire shell of my body resonates reverberates chaotically like some mad bell filling me with dread and despair! – he suddenly shouts - . . . the meaninglessness of the fascination with novelty . . . – he whispers again - all true works of art in some way to some degree point to the mystery of existence the mystery of what we call reality otherwise they are merely empty formal exercises devoid of any content any truth content empty shells with nothing to say mere academic exercises – he scoffs - the relationship between art and religion is very close the distinction between the two is negligeable both unfortunate and artificial I mean to say religion as in religare relatio to bind with to connect with how we relate to the world so-called as opposed to the projections of our imaginations we call beliefs and which we foist on the so-called world . . . even the most advanced experiments with the new technology often falter collapse into meaninglessness most of this so-called new music is but mere icing on the cake no substance utterly derivative . . . and yet . . . and yet . . . – the old man whispers as he spins around mechanically in his squeaking chair – even as the concepts of originality and authenticity the concept of genius the concept of original genius turn out to not be all that original all that authentic mere clichés as it were a product of Romanticism there is something of the original in the idea of unoriginal genius – he smirks – there is something of creative ingenuity in the idea of uncreative writing it is all rather clever and in its own way a very imaginative response to those pompous twits who are always prattling on about poetry and poets having to have a so-called voice an authentic voice an original voice they go on like this not realizing that what they are saying in itself is not original is inauthentic all clichés in fact all borrowed words borrowed concepts and thoughts all of it I make no bones of all this myself in fact I love the unoriginal I love it so much I keep copying it all the time in me own works – he snickers – at the same time the critique of genius theory itself may be a kind of master stroke a stroke of genius itself as my former colleagues who made these claims . . . as I have done in the past . . . these poets and theorists who are critical of the idea of genius of a unique personality a unique artist with a unique view and who write who construct difficult works as I have done in the past works of intricate complexity which the masses as we were wont to condescend cannot readily comprehend these works of verbal and conceptual complexity which require considerable intellectual prowess and erudition to construct and appreciate these are works which not anybody can make these are works that require considerable knowledge and skill I mean to say considerable intelligence not anyone can construct such works not anyone can read and understand them – he says smirking – I could never understand why the experimental poets of my time many of them colleagues of mine put down music of an experimental nature of a complex nature music that employs techniques and procedures similar to those they apply in their own very complex very difficult writing they sawr it music of an experimental character and those of us who composed it as suspect – he says smirking again – elitist and reactionary I believe were the terms we got labled with thrown at us we were considered antirevolutionary in league with the forces of oppression in league with the dominant order of deceit that reigns over society as a whole the empire of lies as they say all too eager they were to slap those kinds of labels on anyone they felt didn’t see eye to eye with them all too eager to treat those who disagreed with them as suspect all too eager to dispense punishment and humiliation on those they felt disagreed with them more so if you happened to be a student as you well know yourself having been one of their students one of our students he says correcting himself - and having bared the brunt of our abuses for what else can they be called but that abuses – he chuckles mechanically looking at me with disdain – the inaudible opens up . . . presents itself such as they . . . it is that there is no purely . . . remains . . . lets them be heard . . . remnants . . . for the same reasons . . . can never be sensed as a full term . . . the mark of an inapparent relationship . . . from this point of view . . . myself being interested in interdisciplinary work and inhabiting an area that stradeled the boundaries between both disciplines between both departments between both territories the music department and the poetics department I soon found myself in a difficult position where I too became suspect to members of both territories but especially those in the poetics department I could not help but notice the double standard amongst the writers who wrote difficult works works of an exploratory of an experimental nature which used all kinds of procedures while at the same time they found suspect those kinds of complex difficult musical works which like their writings were of an exploratory and experimental nature and used procedures similar to those they used in their own writings . . . seeing it as suspect music in which the musical material was subjected to various kinds of procedures while at the same time they regarded certain pop music stars as revolutionary - he smirks - how pray tell is music whose main purpose is to make money revolutionary – the old man snickers - how are musicians whose works serve the dominant socio-economic order and whose musics function as advertisement as propaganda for the system that spawns them how are any of them revolutionary? why the word itself has been co-opted has become a product of the entertainment industry and its weapons of mass distraction . . .
of course one needs to bare in mind that contemporary poetics contemporary literary theory has not yet resolved in a satisfactory manner the relation of what some call the new depthlessness to the so-called genius position so much in vogue among many of the the so-called deep the so-called difficult the so-called complex theorists and poets of today whose ideas whose words might as well be law what’s more even as many of those theorists and poets question the idea of genius the idea of a unique individual with unique ideas and abilities even as they question the idea of a transcendental ego of an authentic self of a unique artistic style even as these images of the genius are summarily dismissed torn down as perhaps they should be it is impossible today to read any of these theorists’ texts without coming across page after tedious page of citations listing the names of all the big critics and theorists of the past thirty or fourty years a veritable pantheon of writers theorists and critics who might as well be enshrined I mean if genius theory is no longer valid if there is no such thing as a unique or individual authority why are all these names so sacred? especially among the so-called left in academe and the literary so-called world all of the poets and theorists I’ve ever met have very strong personalities for all the claims that some make of selflessness in their works why many of them are among the biggest egos I’ve ever known! – he laughs derisively - like my former colleagues and I – he smirks knowingly - all of these theorists and poets for all their critiques of power their critiques of mastery and authority make very powerful very masterful and authoritative arguments – he cackles – but what does this mean in a satisfactory manner? what does satisfaction have to do with anything? all thinking is always unsatisfactory in as much as it is incomplete and unstable an ongoing process of exploration of investigation likewise all works of art are utterly unsatisfactory imperfect incomplete what’s more most of the theories on which such works are based have lost their edge – he entones sarcastically – I mean to say now that the exploratory poetries associated with the various movements of experimental writing are several decades old the theorists and critics’ formulations and related theories of the so-called postmodern have lost much of their edge were we to set aside the works of mainstream poets those rather boring poets who proclaim the centrality of a lyric voice in their works and limit ourselves exclusively to contemporary experimental poetics we see that certain issues have not been resolved in a so-called satisfactory manner as I’ve already said the relation of what some like to refer to as the new depthlessness to the so-called genius position a position now held by those evidently deep those complex those difficult these deep these big theorists these big poets with their posh academic positions and their lavish publications these big theorists and critics who make all those grandiose pronouncements are themselves individuals of uncommon intelligence individuals of uncommon intellectual prowess individuals who like myself are of above average intelligence I would say many of whom approach genius level or even are geniuses like myself if I may say so or at least they are very clever more than most more than the so-called masses as we liked to call them in our typically condescending manner most of these theorists and poets most of my former colleagues who like to think of themselves as being on the left are individuals of privilege who have had the opportunity to attend some of the the finest universities in the world Harvard Stanford Oxford and Cambridge or like myself the Sorbonne and Yale it was in such institutions that we acquired superb educations educations not too many can afford not too many can even begin to dream of educations which provided them I mean to say us with the kind of knowledge the kind of intellectual preparation necessary for the kind of very sophisticated very nuanced thinking used in the making of some of these very remarkable works these very difficult poems these very difficult critical and philosophical works
these Foucaults these Roland Barthes these Deleuzes – the old man says - these experimental poets these friends of mine who proclaim the death of the author the death of the subject the death of genius the death of expressivity who preach the critique of power and authority the critique of mastery are indeed expressing themselves expressing their selves very eloquently in I mean to say through their critical thinking their theoretical writings their philosophical writings if not in their poetry putting forth their ideas their biases their arguments in a very masterful and authoritative manner and in styles which are recognizably unique to each one of them I mean if you read a text by Derrida and then you read one by Foucault or Deleuze you most certainly cannot confuse one with the other the same goes for the experimental poets there is absolutely no way you can confuse one with another beginning with their interests the subject matters they choose the way they organize their material their ideas the way they structure their writing their books or rather how they disorganize or perhaps more appropriately delinearize the thinking the writing and so the reading there is absolutely no way one could confuse one with the other no way one could confuse anything by Barthes for Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus lets say they all have clearly established and demarcated textual identities beginning with the way they look as books and on the page clearly delineated territories and positions within the critical the literary and academic so-called worlds they have become in fact figures of authority in their own right – he smirks – no doubt to be sure they are all aware of each others’ works they have all read each others’ works many of them knew or know each other personally I mean big critic or philosopher or theorist A has read big critic or philosopher or theorist B and C’s works while philosophers B and C have of course read philosopher A’s works and philosophers A B and C have read the works of philosophers D and E and in turn philosophers D and E have read and possibly written about the works of philosophers A B and C just as it’s very likely philosophers F G and H have read and thoroughly mulled over and written about and perhaps even deconstructed the works of philosophers A B C D and E and so on each one with his or her cadre of followers and admirers their established territories their positions of power their cadre of admirers latching on to every utterance hanging on to every word as if the word of a god which explains why they have that groveling way of walking – he says – that disgusting groveling way of walking and talking that disgusting groveling posture admirers have – he says - all too willing to submit themselves to the will of the one they admire – the old man says - I can’t tolerate a state of admiration admiration is foreign to me nothing disgusts me more than watching people in the act of admiration admiring a famous theorists admiring a famous poet a famous professor admiring a famous musician I can’t tolerate being admired - he says again - when someone admires me or admires any of my colleagues or admires a famous writer a famous theorist a famous composer a famous poet I lose all respect for that person I can’t stand admiration it is corrupting it is corruption for the admirer is blinded and once blinded he or she turns a blind eye to the abuses perpretrated by the one admired whom by the way very often abuses the admirer – the old man cackles - once you succumb to admiration the fear of questioning sets in and with the fear of questioning hypocrisy sets in – he says - at the same time accepting admiration forsters hierarchicism authoritarianism when someone admires someone else and the person admired accepts the admiration both parties are accomplices in reproducing and constructing yet again another hierarchical another authoritarian structure – the old man says – when people fall into admiration they become dull-witted dull-witted and blind – he says - and are willing to accept anything from the one admired an intelligent person – the old man says – an intelligent person esteems perhaps respects and acknowledges but never admires – he says – were an intelligent person to commit the error of falling into admiration he or she would soon become an idiot another dull-witted groveling slobbering idiot – he says – a slobbering fool chasing after groveling and submitting to the will of the admired in effect belittling him or herself at the feet of the one admired – the old man says – a sorry state of affairs a truly sorry state of affairs a pathetic state of affairs – he says – which explains the truly sorry the truly pathetic state of affairs in our society in our world there are the admired and there are their contless cadres of dim-witted slobbering groveling fools of admirers mired in their admiration all of whom are exploited by the admired shamelessly ruthlessly exploited by the admired . . . in any case as I was saying – he says reaching into his pocket for his flask – it is differences more than similarities or group labels among the various so-called countercultural poets and writers that now strike one as more significant despite their emphasis on the so-called disappearance of the referent the emphasis on asyntacticality and the materiality of the sign all the while of course most of them completely oblivious of what authorizes them as authors what creates the authority with which they as authors authorize themselves – the old man cackles sarcastically – what’s more the relationship between tone of voice and identity is something that is generally overlooked one could not possibly confuse the tone of voice of one poet for that of another each voice being singular unique if you will with it’s own tone color and texture some more nasal than others others more throaty and raspy some husky some shrill some breathy how each entones a line pauses or emphasizes a word or syllable it is the various types of musicalities with which they read their poems their texts that makes what they say expressive why it is precisely the musicality the cadence the way their voices arch downwards toward the ending of a line that betrays just how conventional some of these poets truly are so much so that the word Romanticism comes to mind I am reminded of music from the Romantic era it is all this twaddle about the musical in poetry that I find so repulsive so outmoded a product in fact of the nineteenth century all of which betrays a very conventional naïve even notion of what the musical is or could be these theorists and critics these experimental poets who are always rattling on about the death of the subject who are always claiming to be against the centrality of the individual artist of the self of the lyrical voice who are always prattling on against the primacy of speech and who in the process evidently very much like hearing themselves speak and who like myself are capable of talking one’s ears off when they get going – he cackles again – rarely if ever do they talk about the relationship between tone of voice and identity this feedback loop in fact I’ve never heard any of them talk about it nor have I encountered any writings on the matter none that I’m aware of in any case probably because they are ignorant of the acoustics of the human voice lacking in knowledge of the structure of sound in general few if any have any knowledge of the physics of sound they are lacking in awareness about the unique acoustic properties of each voice of each sound and what makes it possible for us to distinguish one sound from another what makes it possible for us to identify one voice from another what makes it possible to identify one’s own voice when hearing oneself speak most of them not being musicians most of them not having studied acoustics or for that matter psychoacoustics most of them not having studied the very complex acoustics of the human voice obviously ignore the acoustic properties of the sound of the human voice which is unique to each individual I mean to say the acoustic properties of the human voice are quite unique the spectrum of a sound the spectrum of a voice is a structure unique to that voice and that voice alone as you well know – he says looking at me with disdain – it elicits all kinds of associations in one’s consciousness when one hears it even if those voices are recorded and played back the sound of those voices elicits in our memories in our minds’ ears and eyes the sound and physiognomy of the speaker the so-called body type that person’s particular body language physical gestures which usually coincide with his or her tone of voice his or her inflections his or her accents his or her particular rhythms the rise and fall of their intonation the changing levels of the loudness of their voices all these factors combined make for a unique and complex field of expression an energy field of sorts which is part of the physical precense of the speaker a kind of body in fact a body of sounds a body of vibrations a body of energy – he winces taking a sip from his flask and then puffing on his cigarette continues - even if the speaker is not present bodily I mean to say in flesh and blood neither is he entirely absent as some would like to think for the sound of her voice is part of that speaker’s physicality physicality is not only the flesh and bones you know it is also the energy emitted by that person and that energy’s signature is inscribed as if a kind of writing on the electro-magnetic medium of the recording devices used either as electro magnetic patterns on tape or as digital patterns on the electromagnetic coating on a computer’s hard drive a series of ones and zeros in binary code as the case may be here is a clear example of how speech is a kind of writing what one hears is not quite a so-called ghostly voice a kind of presence of an absence as it were but actually it is a kind of irregular partial absence that of the flesh and bone body while at the same time a kind of partial presence in the form of that body’s energy emanations in the form of sound patterns a body of sounds of vibrations a body of energy in the form of sounds in fact there is more than one body you see
wha’ happens is many factors inform the perception of timbre these include the amplitude envelope of the sound especially the attack shape of the envelope it’s formant structures the perceived loudness and duration of the sound but especially the frequency and amplitude information found in the attack of that sound’s envelope the structure of the sound of each person’s voice its spectrum its timbre or tone color I mean to say the frequency and amplitude information found in the attack of that particular sound’s envelope is unique to each individual it is in fact what permits us our brains to distinguish to identify one voice from another it enables us to tell the difference between one voice and another it is in fact what permits us to identify our own voices thus closing a kind of aural feedback loop which is instrumental in our being able to recognize ourselves identify ourselves with ourselves the spectrum the timbre of a voice functions as a kind of acoustic finger print an acoustic marker a signature in fact that inscribes itself . . . that says me or some critic some poet some theorist or whomever! – he exclaims with exasperation - more so if that sound is accompanied by images as in film or video in which we not only receive the acoustic information but also the visual information the movements of the speaker his or her so-called body language the way they dress the colors they ware the way their eyes move shift about their so-called eye language
the only way to do away with identity the only way to do away with the lyric voice the only way to do away with the centrality of the self the centrality of the so-called individual artist is to use machines is to use computers and voice synthesis leaving the sequencing the ordering of events to computers and random processes random number generators but even so this really wouldn’t do away entirely with the self the ego for it is the self the ego that chooses to employ such techniques it is the ego the self that chooses to employ such technology which has to be programmed using programming languages using programming code as I use in which are encoded the various kinds of procedures to which the textual material is subjected the specific techniques chosen and the decisions as to how and when they are implemented still involves some kind of agency and are however indirectly expressions of that agency’s aesthetics points of view biases and desires of course – he snickers again – there is no greater ego trip than when the ego claims to be egoless! – he exclaims - very often those whom like my former colleagues and I proclaimed the need for a poetics for a music that used procedures which according to them I mean to say to us circumvented the self the ego were among the biggest egos I’ve ever known – he cackles meanly – we all were the greatest egotistical shits you’ve ever known you’d find out very quickly just how big our egos were if you were to contradict or critizise any one of us to be sure you’d meet with our wrath some kind of punishment some kind of abuse more so if you were a student as you well know – he looks sideways at me and smirks – an anarchic repudiation of the self of the ego and an indefinite movement toward a new kind of subjectivity of course is necessary
and yet of course it’s not so simple as usual as usual it’s not so simple I means it’s not an either/or proposition where there is a subject an author a voice or on the other hand there is no subject no author no voice only readers things may be a bit more complicated than this it may very well be that the relation between identity and agency is negotiable fluid interactive what we call the self is not fixed not made of stone not that of the writer nor that of the reader it changes over time it changes with time it is time changing sometimes from moment to moment such that it’s hard to pin-point I mean there is no such thing as a here and now now comes and goes as soon as you think it – he says – as soon as one says it one’s so-called now becomes then and along with it what ever presence or sense of being one may have its always in a process of deferment what ever being there is it is this this constant process of deferment . . . of course one may well ask what is that that is aware of this process this ongoing process of deferment who or what is it that is aware of all this as if looking at the whole thing from the outside how is that even possible – he says shifting uneasily in his squeaking chair - as soon as I write I writes as soon as I speak I speaks as soon as I read I reads I mean to say I means to say as soon as the self is projected it is both polyvalent and announced – he says – form is emptiness emptiness is form as they say – he smirks – at the same time one cannot pretend that an awareness of psychology biography an awareness of history is not active within the writing and reading of the text this assertion the poem as proposition can be seen as one side of the proverbial coin of self within the text from the particular point of view of the writer the other side being the subjective or private canon . . . on all this the views of some experimental writers are my own those wonderful poets wonderful poetic thinkers whose poetry whose thinking I adore and can’t help but copy as my own not to mention Larry Eigner’s magical mysterious illuminating poetry of spaces – he suddenly utters softly, distractedly and, shifting in his chair, lights another cigarette with the still smoldering butt of the one he just consumed – of course strictly speaking there is no subject that is not intersubjective in literature in writing including that of the theorists the critics the self is a relation between the reader and the writer set off by the power of presence or by what some call contact wha’ happens is the text has little to do with whether it adopts a persona is autobiographical utilizes the language of animals or spirits or is dictated by interdimensional beings – he coughs suddenly getting agitated - except insofar as whatever position it puts forth proposes a connection between the reader a real person with psychology history biography and the writer the poet the theorist and critic who are no less real and no less encumbered by all that baggage where one would prefer maximum resistance the irreducible opacity of the text a reading a lecture a presentation invokes the power of presence like no other event it acts like a conduit a cone shaped conduit a kind of funnel in fact a reading forces the audience to focus the text into a single line or sequence of events and meanings conditioned and constrained by the presence of the writer the reading seems particularly constructed to bring about a kind of narrowing down of multiple possibilities to a single interpretation it seems to invite a kind of ventriloquism conditioned and constrained by the writer’s presence it would seem readings force the audience to focus the text into a single thread of meanings all of this of course is reinforced by the reader’s tone of voice I mean to say its timbre and his or her physicality the reader’s body language the reader’s energy field by virtue of this supplement I mean to say the reader’s physical presence not to mention that there is probably some kind of energy exchange between one and the other as we now know we are all exchanging electrons we all live and thrive in a kind of soup of energies and subatomic particles so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if it turned out to be that the reader is influencing the audience at some level with his brain his mind I mean to say her thoughts and viscera and vice versa where the audience is influencing the reader with their thoughts their emotions and desires it wouldn’t be at all surprising if some kind of psychic connection some kind of psychic bond is established between the reader and her audience – he says distractedly – in any case it would seem to be that readings problematize ambiguity and multiplicity and yet . . . and yet . . . no two readings are alike the fluctuations in the reader’s tone of voice at times contradict the semantic content of the text sometimes the reader’s body language his facial expressions physical gestures hand movements posture eye movements her breathing and the way she places accents his inflections all these variables combined with the listener’s shifting span of attention the listener’s lapses into day dreaming all these factors combined may generate slippages in listening in reading misunderstandings in fact moments of ambiguity which may lead to multiple interpretations and meanings . . . whatever the case may be – he says gesturing impatiently with cigarette in hand - when theorists and critics and their followers say things . . . I mean to say regurgitate like puppets at the ventriloquist’s command statements like the death of the author the death of the subject obviously they’re talking about the death of others not themselves I mean they aren’t necessarily talking about their deaths as authors as subjects – he says snidely - for it is an author say Barthes it is a subject say Foucault it is a personality say some poet it is an author a subject who says who writes all that it is an author a subject with a history a biography a psychology who says who writes the death of the author it is a subject who says the death of the subject it is an author a subject who thinks who writes and publishes such statements in a fancy expensive copywritten book from one of the fancy expensive university presses with his or her name on it his or her stamp as it were in fact his or her signature a thinking a writing of papers and books that affords most of them with their posh academic positions and rather well padded pocketbooks I should add
not to mention that many if not all of these theorists and critics and many of the poets who attempt to implement the former’s theories with their poetry many of them have a kind of star status in the academic world so-called in the literary so-called world a status that can’t help but put their works their thinking and speaking their words in a position of privilege relative to others not so fortunate certainly relative their students . . . as you well know – he smirks again looking at me – most of these critics these theorists and poets on either side of the argument are white privileged so-called Americans and Europeans who in the comfort and security of their posh academic positions can very easily make the kinds of grandious claims they like to make they can very well play at being Marxists or anarchists or whatever else they may fancy themselves to be a luxury afforded them by the positions of privilidge they’re in the territories they have indeed conquered . . . of course I was one of them I’m guilty of such hypocrisy and violence myself – he says - of course someone like yourself I mean a nobody like yourself could never get away with all that you could never get away with any of that for there is no territory left to conquer and in any case even if there was you don’t have the power you don’t have what it takes only those of us in positions of power secure within our posh academic positions could get away with such behaviour we could get away with such hypocrisy we could get away with mistreating with humiliating with abusing our students because we have the know how the ability the superior intelligence it is afterall because of our above average intelligence our superior intelligence that we have the positions we have that we are successful at what we do who has the right to question that? It’s just plain to see a simple fact a hard edged fact perhaps but a fact nonetheless afterall that is what our society our culture is made of built on I should say it is built on aggressive even brutal competition it actually thrives on it we thrive on it – he says - our intelligence and our will to be forceful ruthless if need be this is what authorizes us this is what gives us the right to look down upon the likes of you – he smirks - . . . I writes may be no more than the I’m right I’m afraid the I having to be right about everything all the time I mean to say having to be perfect – he says disgusted and leaning back in his chair, blows smoke rings into the air – regardless of all that I still love the experimental poets I mean to say I love their work I love all the arts of an experimental nature they are a breath of fresh air as they say as fresh as the stiffling stagnant atmosphere allows for these days it truly rearranges one’s innards one’s noodle I couldn’t stand the so-called free verse poets I couldn’t stand the so-called voice poets not only is all of that thoroughly passé it is just utterly boring utterly tedious to read or listen to certainly not very interesting to look at in print always more of the same served up under the guise of authenticity a smug authenticity a smug sincerity which of course is no more sincere authentic or original than the latest soap opera on television and often just as banal obviously there is no going back to earlier models as the experimental writers would agree the term voice which one still hears everywhere in poetry workshops so-called a term that quite inaccurately implies that poetry is a kind of outward sign of a spoken self-presence where speech is primary and prior to writing isn’t quite right . . . and yet . . . and yet . . . at the same time – he says shifting restlessly in his chair - it isn’t an either/or kind of situation sometimes writing is an act of construction an activity of building linguistic structures using concepts words sounds phonemes fonts and space as building materials in other words relying solely on the materiality of language of the word its sounds as well as the visual aspects of the text a strategy that clearly affects ones thinking this approach can affect change one’s thinking and perception in ways one may not have forseen may not have imagined in fact it can generate new thinking a new kind of thinking is generated at the same time however I can see hear a kind of writing that originates in one’s inner voice the voice in one’s head the voice one recognizes as one’s own based on one’s memory of the sound of one’s voice which as I’ve already said has a unique acoustic structure a unique acoustic signature a writing that originates in one’s so-called inner monologue this kind of inner monologue that goes on in one’s head all the time – he says – but maybe it’s not a monologue as such not a monologue at all maybe there are several strands several monologues which one hears and recognizes with one’s mind’s ear as one’s own because one hears the memory of the sound of one’s voice when speaking one hears one’s tone of voice one hears the timbre of one’s voice which is inscribed so to speak in one’s memory in the mind’s chatter the brain’s ongoing chatter the mind’s ongoing noise it’s various noises the mind’s cacophony the brain’s polyphony which is a kind of speechwriting or talkwriting where one within the confines of one’s skull is alone with one’s voices the various voices the various thoughts that bunch up on each other bump into one another snake around each other in a constant rustling struggle wrestling for supremacy for attention a kind of swarm in fact where the me the I is no longer a single monolithic structure but rather a kind of composite made up of different Is different mes perhaps echoes reflections of each other as in a labyrinth of mirrors – he says - a kind of polyphonic structure in which many voices speak arise so to speak and just as quickly disappear such that when one writes one is in fact hearing voices which in any case move too quickly to notate type put down on paper into writing or rather what really happens is that the I the me is a single structure I mean to say not a structure but the self is a kind of state of being that lies somewhere in between a structure and a process it seems like a structure a thing an object when we focus our attention on it when we look at ourselves when we focus our attention on ourselves we appear to ourselves as a stable structure a thing an object at the same time however when not focusing our attention on the self on ourselves but rather focusing our attention on some kind of activity such as writing for example the I the me is no longer a stable structure as such an object a thing it can’t really be called a structure as in a system of parts linked together and functioning to make a whole rather the I appears to be fluid appears not to be a single I because from moment to moment it changes it is never really the same I but one that flickers in and out of existence in and out of one’s attention from moment to moment it’s always new from moment to moment and therefore it may give the impression that there are several selves at once that there are multiple selves where in reality there is only one self that flickers in and out of existence very quickly always reappearing as something different
wha’ happens in fact is that it doesn’t exist nor does it not exist one sees images scenarios images of scenarios a kind of theater takes place in one’s mind in one’s mind’s eye one may be able to see them with one’s mental bat ears as kinds of sonograms but of course one can never really write it down as one sees it in one’s mind as one experiences it as language it is very difficult to grasp what is meant by experiencing such inner visions such inner sounds such objects of the imagination such images the words one writes with these signs are always standins for the thing they represent a long chain or vast and complex web or enormous and intricate network of signs defering the moment in which one can encounter the thing itself in this sense the word is defered presence I mean to say the closest one can come to apprehending the thing itself with language the closest we can come to grasping or showing the thing or stating the present the being-present that is to say when the present cannot be presented the closest one can come to actually grasping the thing represented is to use repetition repetition in the form of tautologies I mean to say reiterations in other words linguistic redundancies that is to say say or write the same thing over and over again but with different words each time as if approaching a place a space a splace from different directions different paths or angles
when writing the text and the writer are in a kind of feedback loop wha’ I mean is a kind of limit cycle a kind of cascading feedback loop I should say in which information flows irregularly between both in time altering the content of the text and the writer’s consciousness and expanding the perimeter of the loop itself increasing it’s energy as it oscillates irregularly between order and disorder . . . I can see hear a work a writing a poetry consisting of a kind of irregular or chaotic oscillation between the lyrical I and it’s dissolution into language into fields of multiplicities into a scatter a scatter of words syllables and sound complexes vowel formants and phonemes plosives nasals fricatives and sibilants a text in which the visual aspects of the printed word are experimented with such that the usual layout of lines and paragraphs is severely disrupted forcing the reader’s eye and mind to learn new and different modes of reading and thinking where the materiality of the word of language is emphasized where the disappearance of the referent and asyntacticality take precedence over the semantic surface of the text . . . whatever the case may be – the old man says - I don’t understand why they give readings I don’t understand why anyone would want to give a reading nowadays – he says snidely – why they give talks why they give lectures why they want to be seen why they want their presence to be felt why they want their image to be seen projected onto . . . into people’s minds the sound of their voices heard and identified identified with their image why they want all this why proselytize in this manner isn’t it good enough that they are published? isn’t it good enough that they are read? isn’t it good enough that they have comfortable academic positions? I hate talks and lectures I hate poetry readings they’re utterly tedious pretentious really all those puffed up egos prattling on and on making their puffed up claims their trumped up claims going on and on about wanting to change consciousness when they can’t even change their own! – he exclaims - of course all those grandious claims have afforded many of us with our posh academic careers – he snickers – but in reality I’ve never made those kinds of claims about my own work it’s always been others who have said those things about it my work critics and theorists criticizing and theorizing about my writings my compositions most of which I’ve ignored actually I’ve only heard what my colleagues have said about what others have said or written about my work I never really cared what anyone said I knew what I was doing what I wanted to do . . . the idea of unoriginal genius this observation this critique itself which is so masterfully constructed so cleverly argued and which in a very skillful manner breaks down the idea of genius the theory of genius and which purports to be an anti-romantic gesture is a kind of master stroke a kind of stroke of genius itself – he cackles and coughs – a kind of romantic gesture of self denial I mean to say in the sense that it is a kind of sacrifice self sacrifice a romantic gesture par excellence as I may have said all of art is a kind of romantic gesture more so today when art is basically useless in pragmatist terms in consumerist terms by default taking a critical position in relation to the latter art can’t help but be political without one going out of one’s way to be explicitely political in one’s work as in say social realism . . .when consumerism and capitalist pragmatism . . . it is of course in these various critiques the theorists who in their masterful and authoritative manner create the authority with which they as authors authorize their various critics of originality their critiques of mastery and authority thus . . . of course I have used these techniques these writing strategies myself a lot all the time I love them they take me to unexpected places in the work in myself . . .
art is a kind of activity . . . something that questions and transforms the subject this transformation is itself a political act because it entails a spiritual transformation a radical change in one’s perception of the real . . . art’s goal which is transitory never final is the transformation of the subject which involves contemplation but contemplation here is not a standing still or rather the standing still doesn’t mean inaction in which the work of art is just somethink that happens to us means is a kind of action and so a kind of transformation which permits one to witness the disappearance of the work of art its transitoriness its tentative movement to exist as a fixed thing but this can be . . . where contemplation does not lie outside time as some think nor does it make time stand still but in actuality it is a kind of attention that moves with time it is time itself you see but not the usual idea of time that is to say time as a linear process a sequential linear process rather a web a multidimensional web that extends in all directions simultaneously as far as one can indeed talk of direction in this context . . . but the critique itself like all critiques sooner or later verges on becoming a kind of ideology a kind of propaganda these are all kinds of propaganda to be more precise these are kinds of advertisement which like all advertisements are to one degree or another propaganda for the system that generates them and which they serve and but perhaps more importantly a kind of entertainment in the sense of distraction a kind of distraction and as such a kind of denial a kind of evasion from the reality of our situation of course – he wheezes on coughing – nothing real is worthwhile extracting cleanly from what is ideologically its own lest the critique succumb to an ideology itself that of the morally correct the morally superior the good guys so-called as those on the right and the left like to think of themselves the way my colleagues and I used to think of ourselves – he says with a sarcastic drawl – as my colleagues used to say which is to say ventriloquizing the big critics the big theorists word for word these so called colleagues of mine with their Mexican gardeners and their live in Guatemalan house help – he smirks nastily – hypocrites the lot of them insufferable hypocrites over time I began to feel ill with disgust at myself and all of them rotted out by guilt and remorse from the inside out rotted out by guilt and remorse I began to feel like a carcass a rotting carcass
in any case people today do not appreciate what is said to them what is shown them in a poem in a work of art many works of art are truly magnificent but not one of them is perfect not without their flaws there is always something wrong with them – he wheezes on - this idea of perfection is nonsense horrific really I always start from the assumption that there really is no such thing as the whole the perfect the complete the perfect ceaselessly menaces us with our ruin it ruins everything we look at it ruins everything we listen to and think about perfection and the ideas associated it closure and completeness are truly abhorrent my gratest pleasure surely is in the fragmented the incomplete the fragmented the fragment itself just as one derives the most pleasure from life if one regards it as a fragment the complete and the whole the perfect are fundamentally abhorrent to me it is only when one is lucky enough to break down something perfect something whole or indeed something complete into a fragment when one gets down to experiencing the work of art in this manner only then does one experience a high degree at times indeed a supreme degree of pleasure in it the whole and the perfect are intolerable to me our world our society our culture indeed our age has long been intolerable as a whole only when one perceives a fragment of it is it tolerable this is why most works of art most paintings and sculptures most pieces of music most poems and novels all of which are based on the ideals of perfection completeness and wholeness this grotesque repugnant ideology of perfection these utterly naïve ideals these works of art if I am to be honest are abhorrent to me in order to be able to bare them I find myself having to search for a major fault in them fortunately for me so far with this procedure I have managed to turn every so-called perfect work of art into a fragment a more barealble piece it is thanks to this process that is to say of finding some great flaw some great failure in each so-called perfect work of art that I have been able to tolerate those ghastly works which are regarded as perfect – the old man says - of course their greatest flaw is the claim to perfection itself this wanting to be right all the time it is their greatest flaw it is sheer cowardice the age old fear of death lurks behind them – he scoffs - for years and years almost every morning I would go to the Mauritshuis and sit in front of the self portrait by Rembrandt you know the one painted in 1669 for years and years I tried to elucidate what it was attracted me so much to that painting I was completely enthralled by it spellbound until one day it became evident to me that there is an element of indeterminacy in his paintings this is especially the case with this portrait of himself as an old man and later ones which not only show the technical development of the artist over time but also show his inner development it shows an awareness on the artist’s part of the fact that what he was painting wasn’t an object as such that is to say a solid thing fixed in space and time but rather an ongoing process of change which of course really can’t be done which accounts for the mistyness a kind of fogginess a vagueness of definition around the figure in the portrait itself also a kind of non-descript foggyness in the background there are no indications in the background that would give one a sense of place where the painting took place in a sense it is a kind of non-place an abstraction perhaps taking place solely in the artist’s mind though there is of course an element of objectification it is impossible to completely objectify the subject more so if the subject happens to be the painter himself which accounts for his painting about ninety self portraits throughout the years showing thus an acute awareness of the impermanence of the self what appears to be a fascination with the changes the self undergoes over time an awareness of the subject as unstable of the ambiguity of presence the play that is to say the irregular oscillation between presence and absence a kind of chiaroscuro if you will – the old man says - but more importantly in his later portraits Rembrandt clearly shows awareness of the imperfect which he incorporates into his art in the form of a kind of play a play between the perfect and the imperfect which is what makes his paintings especially the portraits of his last twenty years in which he shows himself in a much more honest light so much more human this is what so fascinated me about that portrait and still does ironically perhaps paradoxically his incorporation of the imperfect the ugly the marred into the work itself is what brings it the closest to perfection any work has ever been but not quite of course for were it to be absolutely perfect it would lose it’s power its truthfulness of course this truthfulness is a kind of fiction I mean to say the truth if one may use that word can be seen as constituted by fiction if I may risk using that word just as truth may establish itself in the form of a fiction – the old man says – whatever the case may be most works of art which is to say all works of art are failures not one of these so-called world famous so-called masterpieces regardless of who has made them are perfect or whole all this produces a sense of joy in me it reassures me for only when time after time I see with my own eyes which is to say with my own mind that there is no such thing as the perfect or the whole am I able to continue living – he says licking his lips and taking another swig from his flask - in general one tends to love philosophy and the humanities one tends to love the arts precisely because they are flawed and hopeless why just as we tend to be attracted to someone a friend or a lover because he or she is chaotic and not perfect because he or she is helpless and not whole but vulnerable for this same reason are we attracted to the humanities and philosophy to the arts because they are hopeless and flawed they are helpless the awareness of this fact is what enables a person like myself which is to say a desperate a hopeless person like myself to go on living in these hapless times – he says frowning - for decades academics poets artists and theorists have been saying the same thing in one way or another I mean to say tautologically which is to say a great deal of redundancy of repetition as my colleagues used to say my colleagues who had appropriated verbatim many if not all the words written by the big theorists and the big critics and were more than eager to throw them around regurgitating them ventriloquizing them . . . the critics the theorists and poets swamp their readers their victims with twaddle – the old man says - if we read the big theorists today the big critics the big poets the big writers we only ever read that art twaddle that gets on one’s nerves that unbearable art twaddle of the theorists and critics that same art twaddle my colleagues and I used to prattle on about all the time – he says - people today only read poetry go to concerts go to museums not out of interest but because they have been told by some twaddler that a cultured person a politically and socially conscious person must go there most which is to say all of this twaddle ends up being a kind of propaganda a kind of advertisement in the crassest sense of the word – he says - people are not interested in art I mean to say most people today don’t give a shit about poetry wha’ I mean is most people today don’t care in the least about art any of the arts ninety nine percent of humanity has no interest whatever in art which is just as well for the so-called person on the street the so-called common man the so-called average man the so-called masses are weary of all those art twaddlers they are wise to the fact that the arts which require contemplation require thought require considerable time and energy to comprehend time and energy that most people don’t have involved as most are in the drudgery of so-called everyday life working as most are forced to all kinds of tedious and meaningless jobs that lead nowhere except to a kind of grave a kind of trap a kind of live death these masses which have been inculcated from an early age by the various ideologies ruling our world after having already endured the violence of indoctrination of inculcation that is to say of brain washing the so-called masses are understandibly resistant to allowing themselves to be brainwashed yet again by some art critic’s some theorist’s some poet’s some art historian’s twaddle – he says - it is no wonder they seek distraction evasion it is no wonder they seek to distract themselves from the crushing tedium of their lives with some mindless entertainment entertainment that provides them with the momentary illusion of freedom freedom from a life of meaningless tedium the meaningless tedium brought on by their meaningless jobs by the ideologies that stifle their minds this vast prison house that is our society – the old man says – in this prison house of a world we have constructed there is no such thing as a free person a free child from the very beginning as soon as they’re born the state takes hold of them by the throat and throws them into some school some state school where the state’s idelogies are mercilessly pounded into their little helpless heads school is the state school which is to say the state capitalist school it is in these state capitalist schools that children are taught which is to say coerced into being good little obedient workers and consumers whose language whose thinking is the language the thinking of state capitalism – the old man says – on and on one hears pundits politicians and talking heads chattering about freedom and democracy of course they have no choice but to talk like this to talk about freedom about democracy in the midst of a totally unfree undemocratic world they have no choice but to talk about freedom and democracy and they do so with glee with healthy smiles on their faces for they are not allowed to not smile not allowed to not look healthy they go on like this day after day with their gleaming white perfect teeth smiling as if anyone knew what any of that really means – he says – as if anyone has ever really experienced anything close to freedom as soon as they talk of freedom of democracy this is tantamount to admitting there is no such thing as freedom no such thing as democracy there never really was . . . as soon as they open their mouths with their gleaning white perfect smiles as soon as they speak of freedom and democracy you know freedom and democracy are dead have been dead for a long time as soon as they start talking about the need to guard our freedoms our democratic rights and our privacy you know those freedoms those rights one’s so-called privacy has already been pronounced dead the bars the walls of our confinement are secured by all such prattle the walls the bars of our cages are secured with reassurances that we are free and that we live in a democracy
using only the language given them by this totally unfree undemocratic society with their minds restrained their thinking restricted in the harness of the culture’s official language I mean to say that of the main ideology which is to say that of state capitalism and which having become a kind of second nature functions like a script that guides their thinking and speaking even their body language reducing their so-called thinking and their so-called speaking to a kind of ventriloquism – the old man says - the talking heads the pundits and politicians go on and on like this regurgitating the official language the official so-called thinking of state capitalism if you watch them carefully listen to them attentively you’ll see hear that there’s an underlying rhythm that pushes them along pushes every one along an underlying rhythm that sets the pace for their thinking and speaking and their other physical actions as well a frantic panicky rhythm born from the motto time is money and there’s not a second to be wasted for each second is counted in gold all of their actions move to the rhythm of state capitalism’s monstruous money making machine the rhythm the pace of life of so-called life is set to the production and consumption clock of the state capitalist machinery – he says – of course in order to offer some sort of resistance however feeble one has no recourse but to throw one’s tv set out the window throw one’s radio out the window too throw one’s computers so-called smart phones and other devices out the window and if that’s not enough take a sledge hammer to them shatter them to pieces to smithereens – he says – reduce them to useless shards and splinters unfit even for landfills use the magazines and newspapers as snot rags and toilet paper that’s all they’re good for junk with which to fill our ever growing land fills as soon as they’re born as soon as they think as soon as they open their mouths they ventriloquize the thinking the language of state capitalism from day one there is no free child their subjectivities having been completely colonized by capitalist ideology by the various political religious and philosophical systems of thought that serve the dominant ideology which is to say that of state capitalism there is only the state capitalist child with whom the state can do whatever it wants
where ever one looks these days – he says - one can only see state children state capitalist children taught by state capitalist teachers who are overseen by state capitalist officials the capitalist state produces and permits only state capitalist people where ever there is still someone who has escaped state capitalist inculcation he or she is ridiculed humiliated denied a decent livelihood or hunted down persecuted to the death or turned into an obedient state capitalist person when one sees people one only sees people who have fallen victim to state capitalism one only sees people who have surrendered their lives to the state people who only live to serve the capitalist state when we look at people we only see people who have succumbed to the state’s will the people one sees have fallen victim to the state what ever humanity there still is it is only state humanity which is to say a state of inhumanity in control societies a cybernetic society of control such as ours so-called social media is one of the best most efficient ways of controlling people simply by providing the illusion of communication and the establishment of new social connections in the isolation of their homes their computer terminals their so-called smart phones thus ensuring everyone’s complete alienation a great machine that reduces humans to mechanical biological mecanisms controlled by information in formation with the reduction of humans to cultural cybernetic machines – the old man says - mecanisms forming a serial sequencial system turning in upon itself coil after coil overlapping circuits of control constantly flooded by information most of it noise that is to say useless information the effect of which is paralyzing hypnotized into paralysis it stimulates tantalizes and plays upon our desires the dream circuits in the brain if they can be called that circuits you see how this technological mechanical language has seeped into everything into our consciousness this is no accident if the brain can really be compared to circuits at all – he says – neural networks neural webs perhaps describes more accurately what really goes on neural scrub neural wilderness neural forest neural ecosystem I think would be more appropriate – he says - of course to talk about all this is utterly tedious it’s pointless to go on like this – the old man says – tedious because pointless just as tedious and pointless as the crushing tedium and pointlessness most people are forced to endure in their daily so-called lives all this criticism and analysis society the so-called human condition the various critiques and analyses what have they achieved? despite all that more than ever it’s business as usual theorists philosophers have made their posh careers out of all that it’s sometimes very interesting and entertaining an intellectual diversion if you will but it hasn’t changed much of anything in fact in some cases they have become part of the problem the various critiques – he scoffs – what have they done? have they brought about a radical transformation in human consciousness? the critique of power and so on what point? psychoanalysis phenomenology structuralism deconstruction post-structuralism modernism and
post-modernism so-called – he says mechanically - none of it has changed anything the more we talk about it the more we exercise our critical thinking the more meaningless it all becomes the more lacking in authenticity the less and less genuine the more and more phony it all sounds more so coming from the minds the mouths of those of us who for all intents and purposes are privileged privileged shits is what they all are – he says – privileged pompous shits we all were I mean to say it’s all so common place it’s all clichés a long stream of clichés for hundreds of years this ridiculous faith in thought in reason this absurd faith we’ve had in reason in thought in reason’s ability to understand reality to understand our situation in this world this universe this faith this belief this irrational belief and faith in reason and thought this insane belief in thought’s ability to solve our problems problems which thought has created in the first place these ridiculous beliefs have turned out to be delusional have led us to a dead end have led us into the current crisis which is the same crisis we’ve been in for hundreds if not thousands of years – he cackles - you might think I’m making a case for irrationalism but the belief the faith in reason in thought in science being faith being belief are by definition irrational they have their roots deep in the irrational in dreams in fears the desire for power in greed and vanity – he cackles again – the repetition of the same patterns throughout the years the centuries utterly tedious and pointless as I’ve already said we’ve heard it all a million times over – he says – everybody knows this and everybody has come to accept it the tediousness of the human condition the abuse of power the wars the ever ubiquitous barbarity and atrocities which no longer surprise no longer shock after the horrors of the first and second world wars we’ve become inured nothing shocks or surprises us we take it for granted we’ve come to expect it we’ve come to accept it all as part of the so-called human so-called condition as part of the so-called human so-called nature which has been accepted as final and therefore is always already a closed book and so taken for granted that it won’t change . . . year after year you read the theories the critiques the various analyses year after year year after tedious year you hear about it are lectured about it by your colleagues you hear it from guest speakers from the big theorists critics poets and writers on and on all of them in one way or another preaching proselytizing on and on they go until so much repetition turns it all into a mass of noise of static a great meaningless mass of noise and as such more useless information in formation with the tenor of the times – he smirks – the utter meaninglessness of the times which is no different from the meaninglessness the pointlessness of times past the only difference being that today we can’t escape it all the distractions we’ve created over the centuries are wearing thin and the nauseating meaninglessness the utter pointlessness of our lives is surfacing coming to the fore – he whispers gruffly – the project of knowledge which has been the project of thought is showing its limitations its shortcomings especially when it comes to knowing and understanding the self human psyche the mind and life and the self’s place in life but the unknown which is boundless unfathomable cannot be reduced or contained by the known which is thought each moment the mystery of life stares us in the face whether we know it or not whether we like it or not . . . knots of discontent this content was as if by dreams an intent – he mutters distractedly staring out the window into the gloom - no doubt to be sure they are all aware of each others’ works they have all read each others’ works many of them know or knew each other personally I mean big critic or philosopher or theorist A has read big critic or philosopher or theorist B and C’s works while philosophers B and C have of course read philosopher A’s works and philosophers A B and C have read the works of philosophers D and E and in turn philosophers D and E have read and possibly written about the works of philosophers A B and C just as it’s very likely philosophers F G and H have read and thoroughly mulled over and written about and perhaps even deconstructed the works of philosophers A B C D and E and I’m certain that philosophers and theorists A B C D E F G and H are thoroughly familiar with the works of philosophers and theorists I J and K and have most likely written about them and critiqued them just as one can be most certain that philosophers or critics or theorists I J and K are thoroughly familiar with and most likely written critical essays and even given lectures about the works of philosophers theorists and critics A B C D E F and G and of course one can be certain that philosophers and theorists X Y and Z know the works the thinking of philosophers and theorists J K and I and the works of A B C D E F and G thoroughly almost word for word and have written countless essays and books and perhaps even have been on the lecture circuit lecturing their unsuspecting victims about the importance of or fallacy of or in the works the thinking of philosophers critics and theorists K J I H G F E D C B and A with their critical their philosophical their theoretical twaddle which they exercise which they weild like a weapon what’s more you can be sure philosophers theorists and critics X Y Z A B C D E F G H I J and K have thoroughly studied and intimately know the works of critics philosophers and theorists L M N O and P whom in turn you can be sure of this are very familiar with and have most likely analyzed and deconstructed the works of philosophers theorists and critics A B C D E F G H I J and K and of course – he entones – you can bank on the fact that philosophers critics and theorists A D B H F C E M G I P J N K L and O and philosophers and criticts and theorists Y Z and X have deconstructed analyzed critiqued even torn apart the works the words ideas and concepts if one may use that word that concept of theorists critics and philosophers Q R S and T whom as you are well aware are intimately familiar and have written countless papers some have even written several books in multiple volumes about the ideas the words and concepts in short the works of philosophers theorists and crtics U V and W whom as you well know have read and thought about and written about the works the ideas the concepts of philosophers writers thinkers theorists and critics A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y and Z not necessarily in that order of course and who have made it their live’s work to repudiate what all the other philosophers have said written and done over the years they have made it their live’s work to destroy every word uttered or written and thought by the other philosophers theorists and critics they have taken it upon themselves with as much violence as it is permited them to thoroughly tear apart thoroughly destroy demean and debase which is to say utterly destroy their words their works and therefore their reputations ridiculing their thinking their writing their ideas and thus ridiculing them personally generating thus drama excitement and intrigue in the academic world in the intellectual so-called world all of which of course is yet another layer of entertainment and distraction with it’s gossip and rumor mills its utter nastiness . . . it serves mostly to make cushy academic careers for them it is entertaining to them distracting even self congratulating in that they have convinced themselves they are doing something positive about the current crisis the current human crisis with their thinking their speaking and writing . . . of course all this knowledge all this thinking interesting and sometimes amusing as it often is is too ponderous it lumbers on and is therefore outstripped by the ever increasing speed and complexity of the destructive events taking place in our world events which we have generated with our thinking . . . none of this of course has brought about any fundamental change in human consciousness in society in the dominant culture of consumerist distractions in fact one often finds that their followers their admirers are part of the problem if not they themselves I mean to say the various philosophers the various critics and theorists their followers their admirers as I was saying become part of the problem through their often aggressive confrontational stance their cliquish attitudes evidently thinking themselves in the know in the right puffed up with moralistic righteousness and superiority as they often are in any case no matter how interesting and insightful how relevant the works the ideas and writings of all those philosophers and writers may be these are works of considerable sofistication and complexity which deal with very complex issues very intricately woven and structured texts which require great knowledge and sofistication on behalf of the reader the reader must certainly be very well read very well educated with ample knowledge of the history of ideas those of us who read or have read these works belong to a very select specialized group of readers for the most part circumscribed to academia it takes a lot of time and considerable effort for one to read and re-read such works to think about them and to elucidate how if any those ideas those concepts might connect with one’s life one’s life’s circumstances in a culture if it can be called that a society if it can be called that that is for all intents and purposes oblivious to thinking in any detailed nuanced manner oblivious to questioning and learning something new which is why such thinking such writing is circumscribed limited mostly to academia where it becomes effectively neutralized reduced to a mere academic exercise most people whose lives have been taken over by the duties of work and family have very little time and interest in grappling with such works very little or no energy left to sit and learn how to read those intricately crafted and masterfully written texts
in light of all this I can’t help but feel can’t help but say I hate poetry I hate music the hero worship of the poet of the composer the artist such a nineteenth century notion such a romantic notion the romantic notion of poet as revolutionary as seer dispensing wisdom this is why I can’t stand myself for I am myself steeped in all that art twaddle all that poetry and music twaddle all that theoretical and philosophical twaddle this whole cult of the artist of the importance of art of culture is disgusting – the old man says – this enshrinement of art and culture as if they were some kind of religion which in fact they have become with their missionaries their high priests and priestesses this whole self congratulating self centered culture of mutual admiration and debasement this enshrinement of pettiness this self serving self congratulating culture of favoritism this opportunistic notion of art as a kind of knowledge and critics and theorists as those who know better this cult has indeed become too precious all of it harks back to the romantic notion of artist of poet of musician of composer as visionary as mystic in possession of some kind of special knowledge some unique insight why they’re all romantics at heart this notion . . . the whole idea of poetry is such a bore such a romantic notion with its heroic gestures the poet the artist as saviour dispensing advise wisdom whether you want to hear it or not their revolutionary pretenses . . . the more experimental poets are just as bad in this respect as are the so-called voice centered poets they both converge seamlessly on this point – he says – they’re both just as sappy naïve while at the same time presumptuous and sanctimonious with their inflated views their grandious claims this even though I am partial to the experimental writers the experimental composers I mean there is no turning back no going back to older forms in any case these apparently opposing tendencies are two sides of the same coin as it were they’re in a kind of paradoxical relationship . . . in my own work in an attempt to show that the two terms of an opposition are merely accomplices of each other extensions of each other really I’ve always tried to undo these opposed perspectives. . . of course in time I drew fire from both sides both sides of the argument the so-called experimental poets and the so-called voice centered poets overnight I became suspect overnight my friends and colleagues turned against me in their minds I became suspect in their endless need for enemies I became yet another another enemy and another casualty of their idiotic squabbles their idiotic conflicts conflicts which they so much enjoy thrive on – the old man says - relishing as they do the pummeling the total humiliation of the other as you know very well – he says - I dare say if they were left alone on a desert island with nothing but knives they would be at each other’s throats they would be slitting each other’s throats in the blink of an eye stabbing each other in the back literally all the violence all the bile that otherwise in the academic world so-called in the literary so-called world gets rechanneled and expressed through more shall we say civilized means that is to say through words mostly through words and nasty gossip all that repressed violence would become uncorked would suddenly explode into a frenzy of unabashed hatred were they left alone on a desert island were it not for the rules and laws we have against violence . . . of course we circumvent those rules those laws and find other ways of inflicting violence on each other as you well know words themselves can be used as weapons one can kill with words the blood shed may be invisible but it isn’t erasable it is real enough so too the suffering caused . . . most artists and intellectuals are like this so-called intellectuals most artists are violent most artists revel in violence artists everywhere wrestle with each other inflict violence on each other mostly with words with nasty demeaning criticism and gossip most artists are terribly competitive territorial more so if there aren’t enough funds to go around for everyone this is nothing new many of my colleagues were their own religion – he scoffs – despite their claims to egolessness despite their writing strategies which were meant to omit or downplay the subject the ego everyone involved in the arts today has a bloated ego is a narcissist – the old man says – the claims to the opposite are the proof of this it is the ego that makes those claims it is the ego that claims egolessness it’s all just more advertisement more propaganda and eventually gets lost in the endless flow of noise of useless information the endless flow of useless information noisy wave after noisy wave its only meaning which is to say its only truth made of lies made of deception – he says – most artists today are mean spirited cut-throats they’re all about competition very nasty competition . . . made of noise . . . bloated waves of noisy information – he suddenly seems to waiver in and out of focus, the sound of his voice intermittently interrupted by the crackling sound of static - in formation with the claims . . . literally back in the . . . through the would mostly . . . suddenly explode into revel violence artist . . . pummeling the total humiliation . . . were it not for the rules uncorked . . . shed the bloody invisible . . . were it not mostly erasure . . . through words shall we see . . . were it not mostly pleasure . . . one might seem a word here . . . you might see a word here . . . the relation to what is present . . . what purports to present itself . . . in this vanishing . . . a chiaroscuro . . . what we would know . . . were it simply a question of something to know . . . to play with a reinvention of a surface . . . what reappears creaking . . . squeaking crackling or screaming . . . the reflection of an abyss which returns nothing returns us to nothing opening the hollow an echo echoing the hollows of a labyrinth beneath the appearance the surface of a fold a folding forever a folding unfolding unraveling unrevealing beginning in an experience involving the body one’s hands one’s eyes voice and ears one replies exactly to a question wrapped enfolded in the answer of the scene excused for not of this name naming the unnamable while at the same time unrevealing as does a revelation
involve invoke a concealment invoke involve
a concealing gesture a
concealment a consealmeant a con seal
meant a seal meant to con one out of existence meant to barr one passage . . . it’s been
like this for a long time it’s always
been about this at bottom about competition competition of the most vicious kind . . .
nonetheless I love the experimental
poets the experimental writers I mean to say I don’t love them personally except for my
Renata of course wha’ I mean is I love their works their writing and thinking although some of them I did love in more ways than one – he says – but it
is mostly their works their thinking
which I loved they themselves don’t
really understand what they have done
how with their lingustic experiments
they have constructed a kind of inverted architecture where the concave is the convex and the
convex the concave how by inverting
the angles and their vertexes the
angles and vertexes of thought of
language and consequently of perception how
with the combinatorial the alchemical characteristics of
language they have opened doors into
other worlds other dimensions of
thought and imagination they have
opened doors into other dimensions how
in this manner they the experimental poets the experimental writers with their linguistic alchemy have opened doors
not only into other dimension but rather
they have opened doors from other dimensions into ours from unknown dimensions into oneself into one’s mind one’s psyche they
enter this world through our unconscious . . . the Editors . . . – he whispers cautiously -
in the beginning when one is young one goes into the arts goes into poetry goes into literature goes into music and philosophy with high hopes convinced that through the arts and by means of thought one can bring about a radical change of consciousness in oneself and others convinced one is making a positive contribution to culture to society to humankind to history – he exclaims – only to find over time that one has walked into another wasteland yet another wasteland of human devastation and degradation one has walked into and walled oneself in a cul de sac just like any other death trap human beings walk into or construct for themselves and each other on a daily basis their families their jobs their many and varied belief systems . . .
though one as a youngster one went into the arts into philosophy with wide eyed enthusiasm over time it became obvious that it was all another death trap just like the ones one was hoping to avoid or change by going into the arts into philosophy and critical theory in the first place my early studies in comparative literature and philosophy my early studies in musicology music theory and composition all of which I embraced with gusto with the enthusiasm of a zealot all of that over time became a kind of prison a kind of tomb in fact I became entombed buried alive for years and years I plunged into my studies with unabashed enthusiasm into my so-called creative work with unabashed passion happily thinking I was digging myself out of a life of tedium and despair thinking I was working myself out of a cul-de-sac only to find that in fact I had been digging myself into a dead end only to find in fact that I had been constructing for myself a cul-de-sac I was in fact all along entombing myself just like all the people I knew growing up in my neighborhood my friends at school who grew up and settled down mortgaging up their lives only to find that I too like them had walked into a death trap I too had constructed a cul-de-sac for myself in the form of my academic and artistic career for the arts the humanities are frought with conflict born of jealousy and fear the politics of territorialism where one is forced to acquire and secure a position mark and defend one’s positions one’s territory . . . in any case the problem with both positions I mean to say the more conservative so-called voice oriented writing and the more experimental exploratory kind of writing based on procedures and in which language is treated as material to which I am partial the problem with both these positions is that many of their representatives for all their talk of revolution for all their talk about the need to bring about a change of consciousness are actively engaged in reproducing an age old formula an age old structure an age old mode of behavior which we have seen reproduced over and over again throughout the centuries positions in fact where one sees the other as the enemy the problem with all of this aside from the fact that both are all too often utterly tedious in their arguments their posturing rather full of themselves really pretensious is what I mean to say sanctimonious really – he pauses briefly on the word as if savoring it - especially when it comes to all those claims they make – he says again gesturing impatiently – wha’ happens is that they are both utterly stuck in their ways utterly stuck in their respective views I mean to say utterly attached to their respective views both having become utterly rigidified in their positions like monuments monuments of themselves monuments of themselves to themselves – he snickers - this is not a package a package deal pretty as the truth tied at both ends none of these explanations are definitive final no explanation really is with the exception of this last statement which sounds final - he says giggling fascetiously - even when one gets stuck and is forced to repeat one’s self over and over again this is not a package a package deal a packaged ideal finalized pretty as the truth tied at both ends rigidly pretty in the absolute symmetry of its perfection perfection is truly horrifying it is truly horrific why does everyone keep on going about this? this and happiness or revolutionary one hears these mindless words these mindless phrases these mindless so-called ideas thrown about all the time – he wheezes on - of course all explications all commentaries pre-suppose underneath the language one is reading or listening to and deciphering all explications pre-suppose an underlying central narrative that holds the entire work together an underarching structure as it were a kind of cantus firmus if you will a kind of hermeneutical sounding board that serves as a foundation upon which the structure of the text with its various layers of meaning rests take for example the astonishing structure of the novel with its leitmotivs allusions crossreferences and symbolic threads and its underlying plots it’s abouts similar in a way to the manner in which certain musical compositions are sometimes structured that is to say with their motives their phrases the subsections these form when grouped together and the larger sections the latter form over time all these elements all these internal relationships forming a network of references that unfold over time from the present moment to the past and into the future simultaneously a kind of explosion in fact that transcends time where time is no longer unidirectional but rather palindromic and where the listener’s memory is the medium in which the work crystallizes into an object of consciousness blurring the distinctions between subject and object between inside and outside . . . but of course a word is an endless pit and a text a web whose strands and nodes are connected to other texts present past and future forming a kind of vast and translucent palimpsest forming a vast multidimensional web in a manner similar to that of neural networks perhaps it even models itself after the brain’s struture that is to say the intertextual web is a kind of representation of the brain and its neural networks a kind of map – he says - a representation of the brain’s memory the brain’s structure and its capacity to imagine to see within as it were and it’s not that these texts are connected to each other only by language itself by the structure of language its syntactical structures it’s grammar the parts of speech the vocabulary the syllables the phonemes and their various sounds I mean to say the various aspects of language’s materiality no this web also extends into the realm of mind by way of the conceptual . . . it extends seamlessly from the concrete from the material into the realm of the intangible such that the distinction between mind and matter becomes negligible – the old man says – electro-chemically firing spitter-spattering here and there seemingly at random like an electric storm all of this leading to a re-evaluation of what mind and matter are of what it means to be a self – he says suddenly spinning on his squeaky chair in merriment - for if you follow each strand to their logical non-conclusion it soon becomes apparent that it is very difficult to tell where one begins and where one ends that is to say they would seem to extend past the boundaries of what one thinks of as oneself and the other language is always saying more than we want it to say it has a tendency to undermine itself even to turn against itself the text becomes both closer and at the same time more distant . . . the idea of unoriginality of unoriginal genius turns out to be quite original itself in the sense of being quite ingenious despite it being so obvious right under our noses as they say this they say say this they say – he suddenly chants - uh-nu-nu-un-or-or-ori-orig-lani-nila-organi-ori-gami-organi-lani-un-nor-nag-organi-lani-nag-nag-nag-me-organi it has no appeal none of it any more has any appeal we were just filling in the void with the noise of our thoughts of our voices like whistling in the dark whatever the case may be I no longer care for poetry – he whispers hoarsely – no longer do I care for literature literature of any kind not even the advanced experimental kind it’s all so annoying so tedious – he says placing a hand on his frowning forehead – it’s such a nineteenth century notion really I mean to say such a romantic notion especially the poetry the literature that purports to be revolutionary – he says sarcastically - the poets the writers and theorists all of it smacks of romantic heroism all of it blends seamlessly with authoritarian hierarchicism – he says barely audible - on either side of the argument it all blends so neatly into the cult of the hero warrior valiantly fighting to protect his territory protect the honor of her profession and further his or her aesthetic position all these undoubtedly very bright people these poets these writers and theorists vying for supremacy trying to prove themselves right trying to prove their critics their competitors their enemies wrong ruthlessly trying to eek out a territory in academia brutally so even while claiming to be opposed to violence – he laughs snidely – one will have said nothing or in any event done nothing in declaring against this or that poetry this or that theory this or that thinking this or that music that these apparently opposing tendencies are two sides of the same coin in a kind of paradoxical relationship in which one is a reflection of the other in which one is the revelation of the other in time they reveal themselves as who and what they really are in time I could not help but undo these two opposing perspectives showing that the two terms of the opposition were accomplices of each other creating a kind of economy of need the need for opposition and conflict all this violence justified by some ethical moralistic rationale this is the way it always was always has been with them with us I should say throughout my academic career how it’s been with them the intellectuals in the academic world so-called the literary so-called world my colleagues my so-called friends all of whom have long since abandoned me these intellectual colleagues of mine embalmed with their own thinking their own ideas and words mesmerized by their own voices leaving me for dead like a dried out husk leaving me to wander aimlessly in the darkness of their Newtonian their Cartesian clockwork universe . . . of course academic so-called life knows no greater pleasure than the fall of one of its own the same goes for the so-called art world academics and artists of all stripes are some of the greatest cut-throats and back stabbers you’ll ever find – he smirks and licks his lips – but of course you already know this you’re one of us – he smirks again – the difference is this time is no longer yours time has been sold out from under your feet your minds your memories this is no longer your time it never was just as mine is long past the time of the great intellectuals the time of the great thinkers the time of the great artists that time is nearly gone you and your generation quite simply have arrived too late out of time no matter how clever and insightful you may be it will go un-noticed – he says – it will fall on indifferent minds indifferent senses your works your thoughts your words will fall on indifferent ears indifferent minds not because in and of themselves they lack merit but because you and your generation are in the wrong time for my generation and the ones before the time was right the time was ripe but for you and your generation and for generations to come you have no choice but to go around in circles stuck in a feedback loop a limit cycle condemmed to repeat the past what’s already been said and done thousands of times all that’s left for you to do is rearrange in a practically infinite number of permutations what’s already been said and done a million times over for you and your generation quite simply your time is up you have no time you are like ghosts – he says - no substanciality no matter how hard you try how hard you work how well made and interesting your works are they are essentially empty have nothing to say for you have fallen between times – he utters – you are in between eras you’ve come up at the end of an old dying era and at the beginning of a new era a new era which will be characterized by eccentricity in extremis to the point of mania and lucidity to the point of hallucination no longer will we live in a cold desecated world analyzed to death a disenchanted world quite literally analyzed to death by thought a dead world chopped into pieces by thought no a new word is emerging a world re-enchanted a re-enchantment made possible by science but not necessarily due to its technological advancements rather due to its seeing the true nature of what for centuries we thought of as reality the dream-like quality of reality the voluble fluid mirage-like nature of reality
it’s best you turn around and stop facing the past – the old man says - what was which is to say what never really was if you have any sense – he whispers trembling – you’d know better to face toward the future the new dawn those changes are already within you – he says – they are already expressing themselves this crisis you say you’re in is only the fact that you no longer recognize your self your old self is a corpse in a well advanced state of decomposition to which you cling in desperation or rather you think you are clinging to it but you can’t of course you can’t cling to the rotting corpse that is was you no more than you can cling to sand or water air or space clouds move quickly across the sky their shadows move across your face your eyes are clouded over it is best that you move on like them the clouds what we say is thinking has nothing to do with thinking I mean to say nothing to do with reason with reasoning we only think we think we only think that is to say we only talk to ourselves we only tell ourselves we only convince ourselves we only come to believe that we know what thinking is we only come to believe to tell orselves to talk ourselves into believeing we understand what it means to think we only tell ourselves we understand what it means to understand people in their baseness don’t know any better people in their baseness don’t see how their actions are their undoing don’t see the evil of their ways that nature can be so cruel so ruthless toward it’s most pitiable and helpess creatures that nature can create so much horror so much palpable misfortune every day with unparalleled regularity and stupidity uncomprehending and helpless so much human ugliness one has to watch day in and day out the creation of masses of new and ever greater human misfortune so much human atrocity . . . you should never be here too much not for long get as far away as you can where they cannot find you the lot of them get as far away as possible where they can’t get to you and shape you mould you abuse and humiliate you inflict their violence on you be so far away like the mountains the unpolluted sky if there is such a thing any more be so far away such that you no longer have a family no parents no relations no patterns no nationality get so far away that not even you know where you are don’t let them find you don’t get too near to them be far away where even you can’t find yourself keep a distance that can never be crossed over keep a passage always open which only you know about there are no doors only an endless open way if you shut the door you are lost they will be very close to you don’t allow them to contaminate you with their words their gestures their thoughts their knowledge stay away from their breath their breath goes very deep and far they have great knowledge but stay away from them as far as you can where they cannot find you where not even you know where you are for they are waiting for you waiting at every corner every school every shopping mall every concert hall waiting to mould you to shape you waiting to tear you apart and then reconstitute you in their own image till you speak their words think their thoughts believe their beliefs till you join them in the killing till you join them in the frenzied enjoyment of killing those who won’t conform those whom they cannot turn to their murderous ways this is why I am here now in this house my sister’s house this is why I no longer leave this house this house is my world my universe my only reality it is my sanctuary . . . I often contemplate suicide – the old man says – sometimes it seems like the only meaningful thing left to do but what stops me is this house I love this house it suits me almost perfectly it understand me it understand me insides we understand each other and when it’s cold gray and foggy outside the three of us are like one we understand each other perfectly such that understanding as such is no longer necessary for we are the house myself and the fog of one substance – he says – we are one body such that there is no distinction between inside and outside the fog the house and I are one single continuum the house knows and so does the fog so I stay away I stay inside as far away as possible from the world outside these walls . . . these walls are meager flimsy should they decide to search me out the entire world is but a paltry thing a paper house that would crumple in an instant and vanish into dust without a trace – he mutters - it is too late now for suicides too late now to worry about myself I know I will die at their hands I will give my self over completely gladly without any resistance . . . one replies to an answer wrapped enfolded in the question of the scene excused for not of this name naming while at the same time unrevealing unraveling as does a revelation involve invoque a concealing a concealment a con-seal-meant – he chuckles - beginning in an experience involving one’s body one’s hands one’s eyes voice and ears a fold a folding forever a folding over into beneath the appearance the surface of echoes in the hollows of a labyrnth an echo opening the hollow nothing returns us to nothing the reflection of an abyss that returns squeaking crackling or screaming what reappears creaking the surface to play with a reinvention of a question of something to know what we would know were it simply in this chiaroscuro this vanishing what purports to present itself the relation to what is present a word here it might seem might you see here a word one might seem a word here here in the seam . . .
I came here to share my exile
what I am identified with I
and defined by which with that what eye
sees far as far as the I can see
seas this content was as if
by dreams an intent
what I am is what I -dentified as
with what I am an eye since when
wind! let me get it!
mind upside down!
might mind wind blown around white
I writes write the rub out
and meanwhile like manifold leaves
overprint the reading
a person’s body can sometimes
do without paper long to what
they always call the always
a holding with more
about figures with what?
withdraws beneath a so-called
a holding with more than one hand
form a thinking on some kind of surface
a membrane a skin a film
a sheet of paper perhaps like parchment
a skein a tangled mass from which to begin
is already reduced or withdrawn
not to speak of the hand
a border a ledge on which to end
alledged beginnings it is said start here
in the space in between
- the old man entones whirling around on his squeaky chair, restlessly shuffling his feet on the dusty floor – what we are seeing are the forces of history thought the imagination so-called creativity turning in upon themselves making whirlpools in time and space unable to move forward yet unable to stay still
* * *
most consider information that which is expected that which is only uniquely defined while on the other hand random and unexpected sequences of events come across as uninformative confusing . . . in other words by information most people want to mean the message actually sent its expected specified order as opposed to a chaos of possibilities which is more likely the case you see . . . in actuality it is in this ambiguous informational environment that we rapidly flicker on and off we exist and cease to exist and in which they the Editors thrive . . . just as we find in other types of systems say thermodynamic systems which contain within them depending on the observer’s viewpoint patterns which can be characterized as orders and disorders so too it is with systems of signification like language and the particular expressions associated with them such as the various kinds of speech and writing we engage in why our speech is a collection of noises plosives nasals sibilants and so on before I can utter a thought a swarm of thoughts snake around in my mind with no idea on my part as to where they come from perhaps they come to me from a source beyond myself like transmissions – he mutters - of course the writing the text itself lies in an indeterminate area as well somewhere between subject and object it is neither object nor subject not an object as such yet still it is one given that it is in the world so-called by the same token however it is not quite a subject either at least not yet not until someone has read it and internalized it and by so doing has begun an intersubjective relationship with the text its writer and other readers the text and the writer are a kind of locus a kind of node through which an intersubjective web is spun actualized the writer a spider at the center of its web the text is in the process of weaving in fact subject and object come together in the very activity of writing the activity of writing and the text written are the locus in which both subject and object meet there is no distinction between one and the other when one is writing when one is giving one’s complete undivided attention to the writing am I making myself clear enough for you boy? – he asks mockingly and begins to giggle then rapidly flicks his tongue in and out like a reptile testing the air, and as he speaks, I seem to hear another voice in the background, in the back of my head perhaps, a mumbling under the breath as if someone where dutifully reading words from a text. At times it seems I hear a swarm of voices that match the movement of his lips perfectly while his louder single voice seems out of sync. Startled I stumble back toward the wall behind me, he looks up smiling knowingly and says
Some sections of Dr. Sarturnian’s Monologue are composites made of bits and pieces taken from other texts, whether in the form of a direct quote or as paraphrases, which when put together in collage or bricollage fashion, constitute the professor’s “voice” or rather, his many voices. A list of these sources is provided below.
1) Adorno, Th. W., “La posición del narrador en la novella contemporánea,” Notas Sobre Literatura, Obra Completa, 11, De la edición de bolsillo, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2003, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España. My translation.
(Adorno, Theodor W., “The Position of the Narrator in the Contemporary Novel,” Notes on Literature, Complete Works, 11, From the pocket editions, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2003, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España. My translation.)
2) Adorno, Th. W., “La forma en la nueva música,” Escritos Musicales III, Escritos Musicales I – III, Obra Completa, 16, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2006, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España. My translation.
(Adorno, Theodor W., “Form in New Music,” Musical Writings III, Musical Writings I – III, Complete Works, 16, Ediciones Akal, S.A., 2006, Sector Foresta, 1, 28760 Tres Cantos, Madrid, España. My translation.)
3) Artaud, Antonin, “Artaud the Momo,” Watchfiends & Rack Screams: Works From The Final Period, Ed. And trans. By Clayton Eshleman and Bernard Bador, Boston, Exact Change, 1995.
4) Barthes, Roland, “Writing and the Novel,” Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin Smith, Hill and Wang, 1977.
5) Bernhard, Thomas, Gargoyles, trans. Richard and Clara Winston, The University of Chicago Press, 1986.
6) Bernhard, Thomas, Gathering Evidence: A Memoire and My Prizes, trans. Carol Brown Janeway, Second Vintage International Edition, November 2011.
7) Bernstein, Charles, “Artifice of Absorption,” A Poetics, Harvard University Press, 1992.
8) Danielewski, Mark Z., House of Leaves, Pantheon Books a division of Random House 2000.
9) Deleuze, Gilles, Guattari, Felix, “Becoming Intense, Becoming Animal, Becoming Imperceptible,” A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Translation and Forward by Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2009.
10) Ehresman, David E., Wessel, David L., Perception of Timbral Analogies, IRCAM, 31 rue Saint-Merri, F-75004, Paris and, Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, U.S.A.
11) Flowers, Brandon, “Spaceman,” Day & Age, The Killers, Island Records, 2008.
12) Gaiman, Neil, Kieth, Sam, Dringenberg, Mike, Jones III, Malcolm, “The Sandman,” Preludes and Nocturnes Volume I, DC Comics, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, 2010.
13) Gallup, Smith, Tolhurst, “Charlotte Sometimes,” Standing on a Beach, The Cure, Elektra Records, 1986.
14) Paulson, William R., “Literature and the Division of Knowledge,” The Noise of Culture: Literary Texts in a World of Information, Cornell University Press, 1988.
15) Stevens, Wallace, Collected Poetry and Prose, The Library of America, 1996.