“Transductive Reading”

Warning:  an unfortunate side-effect of immersion in summer, family and graduate studies is the near-impossibility of crafting fragments of writing into art.  For the time being, then, if you choose to read this blog, it will consist primarily of recommendations, snippets, quotations and reflections with hopefully a weekly creative venture of flash fiction or a poem or two.  The following will fall under the “Reflections” category.

I mentioned “transductive” a few posts ago.  As defined by Gilbert Simondon, a transductive relationship is “a relationship whose elements are constituted such that one cannot exist without the other – where the elements are co-constituants: e.g. humanity and technics are indissociable” (from Bernard StieglerTechnics & Time, vol 2: Disorientation).

I read books by piles.  From time to time I post an updated “currently reading” list, usually comprised of 50 or more books that I keep lined about my desk as a privacy barrier and womb-like conversational enclosure.  I dip in and out of these, ruled by something like mood or intuition – at times I sense exactly what voice or rhythm, style or subject I desire, crave, or need for some sort of equilibrium I lack, and slowly regain by engagement with these texts.  In other words, for my own sense of sanity, well-being, provocation or anticipated growth, I need a collective of minds and voices, styles and subjects to wake me, challenge me, inform me, soothe me, spur me on.  Here’s a smattering from each of the stacks surrounding me…

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What I recognized today, is that the way I read is transductive – each voice, style, subject, mind I engage is co-constitutive of the others I take in.  

For example, today I’ve been primarily soaking in Mark Taylor’s Field Notes from Elsewhere, and Roland BarthesThe Preparation of the Novel lectures.  Barthes describes the urge to change, to purpose singly, “to invest / disinvest / reinvest” as an experience of the “middle-of-the-journey” – an impossible location, but “nothing other than the moment when one realizes that death is real” and time changes, everything is re-evaluated, re-purposed, the familiar is questioned and made strange.  I think (transductively) what Taylor refers to as “Elsewhere“: “not so much a place as a condition that renders whatever had seemed familiar utterly strange…the axis of the world shifts, even if ever so slightly, and what passes for normal changes.

These books are filled with insight, interest and intrigue (as are the whole swoop of titles in the slideshow), but today, today, I am revelling in the company and conversation these writings (surrounding me) construct and carry one, the opportunity I have to be in the midst of it, my mind like a circuit-operator, pushing buttons, pulling plugs, reconnecting, crossing wires, silencing…reading this way is kind of like the work of conducting a symphony – except the melding sounds occur only within the ampitheatrical shell of my own neuronally-linked brain…transductively.

These works co-constitute me, and come to co-constitute my transductive relationships with my loved ones, environment, world.  Taylor writes provocatively of all the betwixt and betweens of reality – “I am never sure whether light makes the mountains appear or the mountains make light visible…Darkness in the  midst of light and light in the midst of darkness…There is a texture to light that allows – no, requires – the tissue of vision to be constantly woven anew…

Paradoxes and contradictions form the very stuff of our lives…the challenge of teaching, writing, and, indeed, living is to join the abstract and the concrete in thinking about questions that truly matter” (Taylor).  

At this stage in my own biolography…I feel this acutely and persuasively.  The “before / after” of which Barthes writes so fluidly – that there is not enough time left to go on creating projects for the future, what lies behind has not achieved the “wanting-to-write” sufficiently…Elsewhere has been visited (or has visited)…and change, choice and directions must be purposed…

To Want-to-Write‘ (Vouloir-Ecrire) = attitude, drive, desire, I don’t know what: insufficiently studied, defined, situated.  This is clearly indicated by the fact that there’s no word for this ‘wanting to’ – or rather, one exists, a delightful exception, but in decadent, late Latin: scripturire, used just once (in the fifth century) by Sidoine Apollinaire, the bishop of Clermont-Ferrand who defended Clermont against the Visigoths (major poetic work).  What I mean to say is: since a word exists in one language, albeit only once, it is wanting in all the others…

     Why?  Probably because underrepresented, or perhaps, in a more complex manner, because here the relationship between the drive and the activity is autonymical: wanting-to-write is only a matter of the discourse of someone who has written – or is only received as discourse from someone who has managed to write.  To say that you want to write – there, in fact, you have the very material of writing; thus only literary works attest to Wanting-to-Write – not scientific discourses…an order of knowledge where the product is indistinguishable from the production, the practice from the drive (and, in that case, belongs to an erotics) – Or, put differently again: writing is not fully writing unless there’s a renunciation of metalanguage; Wanting-to-Write can only be articulated in the language of Writing: this is the autonymy I referred to…”

-Roland Barthes-

I’m there.  Elsewhere.  Wanting-to-Write…


4 thoughts on ““Transductive Reading”

  1. jamesroom964x

    I’m also always involved with more than a few books at a time, it seems. I like your notion of reading constituting some important part of you, filling a craving. I’m always debating within myself about how much I should let my reading affect me, or my outlook. When we read a great thinker, it’s tempting to see everything, at least for a time, through that lens. So for me, the struggle has always been how to incorporate new ideas into my own person in a fluid manner. Great writing.

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"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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