Celldom, continued

cy_twombly_untitled_d5624727h

(click image for work-to-present)

I’ve fallen asleep to the written word spoken for many years now.  As when you allow your eyes to relax and the world doubles and then goes hazy, I find written language spoken, or sometimes even spontaneous monologues or conversational chattering to blend like the pitter-pattering of rain.  This young lady alternates between Fernando Pessoa, James Joyce and Macedonio Fernandez, occasionally inserting a poem by Rilke, myth from Borges, language of Sabato or Blanchot.  I’ve requested Laurence Sterne and Chuang-Tzu.

My statement on file is that “only great literature might help me sort out what it is that is asked of me,” and that the mind ‘they’ or ‘you’ are apparently concerned with will only remain attentive and communicable if constantly  nourished by music, language and the visual arts.  Otherwise I’ll be shutting it down, I said.

“How does that feel?” you, they, say again.  “It thinks,” I reply, “it thinks…perhaps it approaches an ‘idea-feeling,’ as the godfather of novels put it, or ‘intuition’ as used in the history of aesthetics…but ‘feel’ still confuses me,” I say.  I need to rest.

I’m beginning to believe I’m caught up in some laboratory system.  Led through corridors, slept in cell-like-hotel-room-type spaces, fed a steady array of the food groups, allowed brief walks out-of-doors (always accompanied, but not all in lab coats).  I have relatively kind courtiers, but I don’t bother with their names, they/you seem human enough, and we all run similar gamuts of experience, as I imagine it.

Yet I don’t really understand why I’m here, or anywhere, for that matter.  Seems an experiment of mind-observation.  One fellow (always accompanied by two or more others) regularly asks me questions about what and how I am doing, what I have done, what I think of doing, have thought about, dreamt, (asking ‘feeling’ questions less and less, as it always throws me off my game, resulting in bewildered wordlessness).  Today he mentioned ‘memory’ while flashing lights along a bar or tapping on the backs of my hands while they lay on my lap.  It’s an odd sort of world to end up in, after all.  I said I remembered a waterfall, a pleasantness, that it may have been Gaugin or Courbet, that they might take me through a museum or find some books about that…He dropped in the ‘how does it feel?’ query again, or ‘where in my body does that memory register?’  What to say to these people?  “In the mind!” I grumbled, “it is only all in the mind – perceptions, sensations, ideas, messages…all my skin, limbs, nerves and flesh send their impulses through there,” I stated, “let me lie down now.”  And thus I am.

They claim this day is my birthday.  That I am allowed to have it “off.”  I believe you, he said, and left me a genuinely glorious stack of books someone fetched from the library.  “We’d still love for you to record your experience,” they added, “if you’d like.”  Create my experience is more like it, I thought.  Fabulate it into these marks on a canvas lacking color or texture, I thought.  Sculpt a word or two in two dimensions, black, white, and yet I do suppose it passes the time (whatever ‘time’ it may be, is).  Who brought me here?

The stack on the table comprises a fifth of this weeks requests I write out when they ask me my needs.  “Weekly” is a term they use, for some reason I accept it.  Exhibition catalogs of Cy Twombly, R.B. Kitaj, Corot and Courbet, Susan Rothenberg, Emil Nolde, Clyfford Still, Millais, Thiebaud, Gwen John, Sam Gilliam, John Piper, always a new Giacometti, the journals of Rilke, writings by C.S. Peirce, Lessing, stories by Brecht, and some medical studies on optics.

It is quiet.  I had asked for music by Max Richter or Arvo Part for my “special day,” apparently this was too much, or none could be found.  They, or he, uses the term “melancholy” a lot in reference to my musical tastes.  And of course inquire (in increasingly subtle terminologies) how that makes me “feel.”  Phrases like “how does that occur to you;” “what do you consider regarding this?” “what impressions do these stir” and so on.  “Make” me feel, hmmmm.  I draw ovaled circles for them, if I’ve a pencil, I have taken to shading them in from time to time, altering lighter and darker passages.

I can’t conceive what their interest might be.  My suspicion grows that it’s simply their job.  What can they learn from a circle besides what they invent?  Maybe it’s their task to confabulate patterns or conclusions, narratives or hypotheses from observing or investigating me, as if I’m a text or a painting.  The world is a strange place to endure.  I think there are very many rooms in this building – have I been misplaced?  From time to time I’ve thought I’ve caught other shuffling souls (I think they planted that idea actually).  It is quiet today.

I get some nifty ideas of what to do with my pen from Twombly today (puts me in mind of Mark Tobey), so I clutter up a page with scribbles until it’s a balanced equation of masses and gaps, much like my daughter’s…”What’s that?!” he/you asks excitedly – “your daughter?!”  “I’ve always imagined I’ve a family” I replied – “children realize.”

I lie down.

I wake realizing I’d never read of Twombly’s life.  He at least had access to crayons if I’m to believe the reproductions in this book, as well as ample unlined paper.  But I also quickly recognize that much of it is simply in pencil, yet it provides me with an almost emblematic understanding…like the mapping of eye’s movements they’re so fond of here.  Perhaps Twombly inhabited a space such as this as well?  This is a touch shaming.  No, couldn’t be, I detect oils or gouache underneath some of these.  How I adore his busy little stories – like scratch papers of a physicist or schoolboy doodles, notes to the self, etcetera.  I’ll copy some as my written reports the next few days and see what you/they make of that!

I lie down.

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Summer Recapitulation

Given the nature of things… withdrawal from school… disregulation of schedule / child-rearing / presences… obligated projects, desired collaborations, attempts… preponderance of labor… decrepitude and erosion of house, car, body…

Herein lies a revised Summer Reading List – old and new and recapitulatory…

“FICTION”

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“POETRY”

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“OTHER”

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Where we exist…how

I was going to type a long set of excerpts…but so much nicer for you to get some of the full sense yourselves… if you have the time… it’s worth it – to interact with a resource external to yourself and see how that creates what we commonly think of as “cognition”… like my hands typing this message that you are going ‘outside’ of yourself to utilize toward meanings….

Clark - Supersizing(click on the picture for extended excerpts…and extending your world)

Arriving today + Reflections

Jakobson - On Language

…and wonderings about language as a tool and an abstract medium.  Wondering if in the endless bewilderment of experience – of living – rife with woundings and joys – we move to shared media, providing communally devised realms in which to re-vision, simultaneously creating new life, wherewith and wherein to investigate and inquire, to dig and dig and…

Language as constructed or agreed-upon and functional (tool) medium.

Then there’s this full of resonances and also contributing to the reflections – required text of a current course:

Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles
Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles

…and I quote:

“As the reader gropes the stacks – lifting books and testing their heft, appraising the fall of letterforms on the title page, scrutinizing marks left by other readers – the more elusive knowledge itself becomes.  All that remains unknown seems to beckon from among the covers, between the lines.  In the library, the reader is wakened from the dream of communion with a single book, startled into a recognition of the word’s materiality by the sheer number of bound volumes; by the sound of pages turning, covers rubbing; by the rank smell of books gathered together in vast numbers…the physicality of the book is strongest in libraries, where the accumulated weight of written words seems to exert a gravity all its own.”

“So the library is a body, too, the pages of books pressed together like organs in the darkness…[in libraries] I can fool myself that the universe is composed of infinite variations of a single element – the book – that I, too, am made of books, like the person in Giuseppe Arcimboldo‘s painting The Librarian

Archimboldo - the Librarian

“…a person made of books; his is not a single book but a whole library”

“I have the distinct impression that the millions of volumes may indeed contain the entirety of human experience: that they make not a model for but a model of the universe.”

“…texts, fabrics to be shredded and woven together in new combinations and patterns…”

“everything in the world exists to end up in a book” (Stephane Mallarme)

“With their leaves of fiber, their inks of copperas and soot, and their words – books are an amalgam of [Roger Bacon‘s] three classes of substance capable of magic: the herbal, the mineral, and the verbal”

“For any question, the library offers no hope of a definitive answer…unlimited and cyclical”

“Together they tell us stories that they could not tell alone”

library pic

“In many places, the volumes are thick with dust, pocked with the holes left by insects,

which are almost as hungry for books as I

-all quotes except where noted – Matthew Battles Library: An Unquiet History

And somehow I can’t help but think the interface and interstice of languaging matter in this way – a way that provides comfort and the slightest skin of distance from the raw inside of skin – inseparable recursions – but mediated immediately – kind of like magic; a LOT like alchemy; always experience – but less abrasive or intrusive than “direct.”  Perhaps paint, light, cameras and brushes, clay, etc – any art that borrows matter outside the body – similarly provides a soluble, gentled, media through which to live forward…

…in other words…are our preferences for embodiment a part of what define us as artists in the societal mesh?  The media through which we most naturally express or experience or embody indicative?  Textuality as embodiment for the writer; clay, stone, marble, etc. for the sculptor; movement for the dancer; oil, pigment, brush, etc. for the painter; lines for the draughtsman and so on…

 

De-Presses

“What a joke it is to read or hear—as I have read or heard more times than I can count—that writers ‘see more clearly’ or ‘feel more deeply’ than non-writers. The truth of the matter is that writers hardly ‘see’ or ‘feel’ at all. The disparity between a writer’s works and the world per se is so great as to beggar comment. Writers who arrange their lives so as to ‘have experiences’ in order to reduce them to contemptible linguistic recordings of these experiences are beneath contempt.”

—Something Said, by Gilbert Sorrentino

Dalkey Archive

Via strange twists of events, connections that could only be re-constructed through fantastic imagination, I have been moved back into perusing publishers for work that inspires, raises and extends one’s ideas of what “art,” “literature,” “human” are.

While most publishers must infuse their catalogs with books that will sell, there are still a few presses that are simply committed to grandeur – to works that express and challenge what humans are capable of making, thinking, expressing, creating – works that assess and challenge our condition of being.

Two presses I’d like to promote – that continually provide works that surprise and engage (fully) and elastically foment my boundaries of concept and possibilities – with bewildering form and content – in other words, publishers from whom you might randomly purchase titles and ALWAYS be made richer, better, exponentially more humane – (THIS IS A REMARKABLE THING):

 

please visit them and order…ANYTHING…

your life will be BETTER.

 

 

Excerpts of Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge

Ideal

by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge
1

I did not know beforehand what would count for me as a new color. Its beauty is an analysis
of things I believe in or experience, but seems to alter events very little. The significance of a bird
flying out of grapes in a store relates to the beauty of the color of the translucency of grapes.
There is a space among some objects on a table that reminded her of a person, the way the bird reminded her,
a sense of the ideal of the space she would be able to see. Beauty can look like this around objects.
plastic bag on a bush, moving slightly, makes an alcove, a glove or mist, holding the hill.
Time can look like this. The plane of yourself separates from the plane of spaces between objects,
an ordered succession a person apprehends, in order to be reminded.

Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

Red Quiet, Section 3

by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge
Our conversation is a wing below my consciousness, like organization in blowing cloth, eddies of water, its order of light on film with no lens.

A higher resonance of story finds its way to higher organization: data swirl into group dreams.

Then story surfaces, as if recognized; flies buzzing in your room suddenly translate to “Oh! You’re crying!”

So, here I hug the old person, who’s not “light” until I embrace him.

My happiness at seeing him, my French suit constitute at the interface of wing and occasion.

Postulate whether the friendship is fulfilling.

Reduce by small increments your worry about the nature of compassion or the chill of emotional identification among girlfriends, your wish to be held in the consciousness of another, like a person waiting for you to wake.

Postulate the wave nature of wanting him to wait (white space) and the quanta of fractal conflict, point to point, along the outline of a petal, shore from a small boat.

Words spoken with force create particles.

He calls the location of accidents a morphic field; their recurrence is resonance, as of an archetype with the vibration of a seed.

My last thoughts were bitter and helpless.

Friends witnessing grief enter your consciousness, illuminating your form, so quiet comes.

berssenbrugge red quiet

A Reading of Red Quiet

Excursion

we’re heading off to visit children and family in the Pac-NW for a week +…not sure how often I’ll “get back again” to ze blog, but aside from my amazing wife, I’m taking these….

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Happy Trails….

“It’s always a question of beginnings”

Another year.  The title of this post comes from Helene Cixous’ introduction to Clarice Lispector’s The Stream of Life, both books being part of the tight reliable necessities of each of my own repeated beginnings.  No matter how I try otherwise, when the first of a calendrical year comes around with its socio-cultural aura-like atmospheric influence of the idea of new beginnings…I find myself tracking to the shelves for these few cellular texts like the body seeks to breathe.  This has been my inalterable habit for so many years now, that I can not avoid recommending them (with the highest deepest forms of  loving attachment), to all of you.

“evoking the incommunicable realms of the spirit,

where dream becomes thought,

where trace becomes existence…

I write you because I do not understand myself…

it is always a question of beginnings.”

“And for many years I have been writing,

borne by writing,

this book that book;

and now, suddenly, I sense it:

among all these books is the book I haven’t written;

haven’t ceased not to write.”

and additionally, today:

“What I mean is, if you have ink in your blood it’s hard to get it out of your hands…

Our reputation for excellence is unexcelled, in every part of the world.

And will be maintained until the destruction of our art in some other art which is just as good but which,

I am happy to say, has not yet been invented.”

“Samuel Beckett: Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better…

to conceive of writing as a possibility space where everything can and should be considered, attempted, and troubled.”

May your 2013 be filled with incredible texts and integral growth and development!