14 March 2012

There is too much self in my writing. Do you know the term Kukács uses to describe aesthetic structure? Eine fensterlose Monade. I do not want to be a windowless monad - my training and trainers opposed subjectivity strongly, I have struggled since the beginning to drive my thought out into the landscape of science and fact where other people converse logically and exchange judgments - but I go blind out there. So writing involves some dashing back and forth between that darkening landscape where facticity is strewn and a windowless room cleared of everything I do not know. It is the clearing that takes time. It is the clearing that is a mystery.

Once cleared the room writes itself. I copy down the names of everything left in it and note their activity.

How does the clearing occur? Lukács says it begins with my intent to excise everything that is not accesible to the immediate experience (Erlebbarkeit) of the self as self. Were this possible, it would seal the room on its own boundaries like a cosmos. Lukács is prescribing a room for aesthetic work; it would be a gesture of false consciousness to say academic writing can take place there. And yet, you know as well as I, thought finds itself in this room in its best moments -

locked inside its own pressures, fishing up facts of the landscape from notes or memory as well as it may - vibrating (as Mallarmé would say) with their disappearance. People have different views on how to represent the vibration. "Names" and "activity" are euphemisms for the work. You may prefer different euphemisms; I guess the important thing is to copy down whatever vibration you see while your attention is strong.

Attention is a task we share, you and I. To keep attention strong means to keep it from settling. Partly for this reason I have chosen to talk about two men at once. They keep each other from settling. Moving and not settling, they are side by side in conversation and yet no conversation takes place. Face to face, yet they do not know one another, did not live int he same era, never spoke the same language. With and against, aligned and adverse, each is placed like a surface on which the other may come into focus. Sometimes you can see a celestial object better by looking at something else, with it, in the sky.

Think of the Greek preposition ----. When used with the accusative case, this preposition means "toward, upon, against, with, ready for, face to face, engaging, concerning, touching, in reply to, in respect of, compared with, according to, as accompaniment for." It is the preposition chosen by John the Evangelist to describe the relationship between God and The Word in the first verse of the first chapter of his Revelation.

"And the word was with God" is how the usual translation goes. What kind of withness is it?

I am writing this on the train to Milan. We flash past towers and factories, stations, yards, then a field where a herd of black horses is just turning to race uphill. "Attempts at description are stupid," George Eliot says, yet one may encounter a fragment of unexhausted time. Who can name its transcactions, the sense that fell through us of untouchable wind, unknown effort - one black mane?
Anne Carson, "Note on Method," Economy of the Unlost (Princeton: 1999): vii-viii.

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