January 23, 2011
Ah, overshot this one by a few days but forgive me because I’ve had one of those mind-altering, snotacular colds that put you in bed for days. And anyway, you got two in the space of a week so ner.
Disease has a way of making me lose focus so as you can imagine, everything I had planned for the past week has been replaced by a waste basket full of sneezed-in-to tissues. But now I’m feeling better and I’m taking advantage of this lack of direction because when you’re standing in the middle of a disaster, you can see everything in detail. It’s got me thinking.
I’ve been making the novel too complicated and when things start to get sticky in my writing, they also start to become implausible. With people vanishing and origins being thrown out of sync, it’s no wonder I can’t finish the first chapter. Reading shouldn’t be easy but it shouldn’t be soul-destroying either.
I’m now trying to reform the plot so it’s simple, whilst searching the top cupboard of my brain for an important answer to an essential question: what am I exploring in this novel?
I’m not sure (lie). I can’t make it out in all the mess of ideas (another lie). I don’t understand it (blah blah blah).
In truth: I’m exploring the absence of a presence.
The thing I’m unsure about is what this means and that’s an uncomfortable thought because it carries a hint of irony in it – that anything means anything. Of course it does! But only because we layer meaning over things. The idea that there’s an inherent meaning to anything is problematic. Pick an object, an emotion, a situation – whatever you want – and then open it up. Go on, don’t be shy! Right open. Now have a good look at it and tell me that the thing you’ve chosen has one definitive meaning. It doesn’t, does it?
Of course this is a bit of a farce because you’ll get the gurus (authority) who say (kinda snobbish in my head): yes yes, we’re all multiple and it’s all quite normal to be that way; there are many things but they all essentially boil down to one thing…
And then I lose interest because they’re doing it again, drawing all the multiplicity into a single point, a bit like this sentence just has. I’m stumped by this point too.
It’s too easy to say that nothing has a presence and it’s too convenient to say we’ll change it when we need to because presence never sticks around longe enough for us to a) recognise it and b) think about changing it.
This is why I need to keep it simple. For some reason my fingers started typing ‘complicated’ when my head was saying ‘simple’. There’s a conflict going on in my head and at the moment, there’s nothing I can do about it. Asides from stop trying so hard and let it go.
- Finish chapter one and polish it so that the narrative makes sense
- Begin chapter two so that Faith finds herself in a new situation and so that I stop rotting in my own boredom
- Gently, gently, contemplate what it would mean to explore absence (TRACE) within the text itself and how this could be done
- Generate a lose and simple plot for the whole novel
- Write a synopsis based on this new plot.
There, simple. Over-and-out.
June 19, 2010
Sometimes I question the authenticity of my brain; I wonder if perhaps it’s actually a living sponge, wibbling across the ocean floor and shuddering in delight at the notion of plankton.
Maybe it’s just one of those days. I had a passionate conversation with my niece this morning but that’s all I can say about it: it was a passionate conversation. We can only guess what it was about – generally or specifically – and that sense of mystery can be accurately applied to the rest of the day that has just passed. With the exception of learning that a friend was almost gassed to death in the night and knowing that I ate four digestive biscuits today – one more than I should have eaten, according to my calorie plan – because they were delicious. Especially the rogue one I snuck in.
In fact it became rather apparent to me yesterday evening that I’d experienced ‘one of those days’ quite recently. Although I’m assuming it’s quite recently. I can’t tell for sure when it occurred namely because I have no memory of it, but the evidence is there and true enough. ‘One of those days’ occurred because I’m missing large swathes of documents that I deem important but at the same time, painful to keep.
It’s not like me to destroy something that will come in handy to me at a later date, no matter how inconvenient it may be to retain. I don’t like to assume, but I know me well. I’ve shredded those papers in a moment of unrefined madness and bliss.
A lot of people would be upset if they found themselves in the same position. I’d like to say the same about myself but because I have no memory of the event and the reasons and emotions attached, it’s all water off a duck’s back.
I’m dreadfully sorry but I’ve lost my train of thought…
Losing a train of thought – a train is an elongated piece of fabric usually stemming from a skirt or robe. So my thoughts have elongated fabric to them? Draping across the floor and when I wish to engage the thought, I pick it up. But the thought leads me, because when you hold a train, you’re behind it – does that mean my thoughts precede me? Are my thoughts the play of differánce?
And when I drop the train, the trace of my thoughts and their play? I lose the train? Lose sight of the train? I’m left with little more than a trace of that long piece of fabric I was holding onto tentatively; I remember having it in my fingers but can’t say when or where. It becomes a shadow lodged in the corner of my eye; ever-moving. Out of reach. It becomes the memory I can’t trust.
What are my thoughts trying to tell me? Where do they want me to follow? What are they trying to teach me?
I’m regularly seduced by madness, and today has most definitely been one of those days…
April 8, 2009
There must be a point in your life where you’ve encountered the annoying instance in your chair being too low to type comfortably (check-amended) and being torn between two things: not ice cream or lovers or shades of shoes or truths or lies, but suitability.
“I’m right for this; you’ll have to dig but I’m right for this!”
“I’m right for this too; you’ll have to dig but I’m right for this too!”
On the face of it they might not seem to differ much, but you damn well know they do and it’s only on the face of it that you see where they are so similar that you understand why you’re in this mess to begin with: they’re both difficult to work with and they’re both insisting that they’re the right one for the job.
Nostalgia and a bizarre understanding of complicated ideas is making me yearn for not so much the comfort and safety, for there is no comfort or safety to be found here (oh no… not here), of dare I say it – Derrida – but his sometimes unnerving act to make me fall in love with these odd little symbols that you find scattered about all over the place. And they should make sense, right? Not in my life time.
Then again… the flirtatious coos of something I’ve not really explored that much and have only recently taken a fond interest in is in itself, creating enough emotional havoc in my already befuddled mind(s), lax and tired from being pushed too hard, as to leave my heart-strings in the throes of a perpetual, arousing hum – such are the movements that I follow in Cixous.
I feel familiar (!) with the former and at ease (!) with the latter but both shake up in me excitement, dumb-foundedness and liberation and all of the things that lead me to sit here on a Wednesday night wondering which one would be more suitable for what I want to do; so weigh it up they say and I do and discover that neither are going to give me an easy ride and here it is now, the crux of why I am so in love with what they have to say —
I only have to decide what I want to say.
February 17, 2009
Everyone falls for this at some stage and even when I’m least expecting it, when I’m wanting it least, I fall for it too; I am Derrida’s “bad reader [...] the fearful reader, the reader in a hurry to be determined [...]” (1987:4).
But it only take a nudge, an embarrassing one, to put me back on track? No. To knock me off those tracks, and with such force that I am almost ashamed to look. Why? I’ve made a fool of myself? Believed I was bigger than this? The Authority? Yeh, why not. But more so, I am ashamed to look because I am not ashamed but frightened by there being no tracks anymore. I have bare feet now.
So now I understand, in my humiliated way, that I’ve been too busy reading Cixous than to just let her in by reading. I should be offering tea (if she wants to step over the threshold) but I’m too busy arranging cushions to notice that it doesn’t matter how ordered I make it, how much I reason with it or how strongly I wish to have it. I’ll never have it, and that’s the point. I’m not The Master; I don’t have to fear rejection anymore because I am waiting for it. I am not going to pursue, unless of course I want to experience language turning its back on me.
Language can do that. And I figure it will do it whenever I give chase and name (maim) so that I’m left deserted. Which is no bad thing as long as I am able to sense other things around me, like unexpected moments when I draw sensual relations between eating orange segments and being reminded of you; long, narrow and graceful hands with fingers I could suck.
These are unexpected and they shock me because I strive for these moments but they always falsify me; then they gratify me when it isn’t appropriate for them to do so.
I am Derrida’s bad reader, who thankfully he likes; this isn’t a bad place to start because from here I can at least begin to retrace my steps (1987:4) and I can “reach a goal unhoped for”, “good surprises”, because “we never reach a goal hoped for” (1998:193).
I shouldn’t worry about this; I shouldn’t worry about being rejected by my writing. I should just do
They keep telling me to move freely; don’t worry about it. I’ve repeated myself, but why worry? It’s a thought I’ve met already and it likes me, is still talking to me which means that I haven’t been rejected. I’m certain, like Cixous is believing in the departure and (re)turn – (re)arrival – of writing. No, I am uncertain and anxious because of it. We are moving.
Why haven’t I stopped yet? Because I followed the shadow and found, whilst losing it all over again, that when I am waiting I am alone, and when I grab I am rejected.
I am uncertain, anxious. Unprepared, under prepared, underneath my preparation, inside of it, inside of me, here all the same waiting. And now I stop. I ‘cut’ (1998:191) because I am letting this go; I have ‘been’ enough for today.
- Hélène Cixous, Stigmata; 1998: Routledge, London and New York
- Jacques Derrida, The Postcard: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond (Trans Alan Bass); 1987: The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London
February 6, 2009
I’ve never doubted for a second that people suffer for their art; it’s almost midnight and will probably be gone midnight by the time I’ve finished writing this, and here I am writing this. This which is my vain attempt to push through that final wall of exhaustion so that I can get to sleep.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve tackled dense reading material and I’ll admit that I’ve been consciously and unconsciously avoiding the reading for EN878. Not because I don’t want to read it but because it takes a lot of energy, most of which I haven’t managed to recover from the desiccating grip of the past fifteen months yet.
I’m rusty. My memory is shot. I don’t remember the majority of the day that has passed, virtually none of the week that has vanished and last night I was informed that it was in fact Thursday and not Tuesday. So I worked extra hard today, from about 3pm onwards. What I did before that time … who knows.
Bersani and Dutoit are not pleasant reading companions. Their work on Rothko is complex, lengthy and to put it in more physical terms, like trying to eat a mountain with a teaspoon; takes forever, bloody hard work, kinda kills your bowels.
In the face of material that I struggle with or have never encountered before, I put on my miner’s hat and start digging around in the pits of the internet for scraps: small references, definitions, fragments of people who have been doing this for years already, study guides that I know should be questioned for their credibility. I’ll also spend a good hour or so trawling through my growing library of text books, the majority of which come from my Social Sciences degree (oh how handy that has been, so glad I studied it – Mickey Mouse Degree my arse…) in order to find anything worth relating to the topic at hand; I’ll look for anything that can pull the layers apart so that my eyes can remain in their sockets. Perseverance eventually gave me a justifiable source to bring me up to speed on the nature of the epistemology of perception.
I’ve been rummaging about in the online journals, mainly J-Store, for my salvation. Today, I came up trumps. “Nothingness Made Visible: The Case of Rothko’s Paintings” by Natalie Kosoi (Art Journal, Vol. 64, No. 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 20-31). Thirteen pages of clear discussion on the topic I’ve been trying to drag out of that poxy chapter by Bursani and Dutoit since I got my hands on it before Christmas. What’s even better? Kosoi discusses the chapter, and challenges it. She draws on Satre and Heidegger (all hail SparkNotes, don’t care what you say…) and she just makes sense.
Reading the article came with a price of course. One article, not a major challenge right? If you’re one to let things go or maybe if you have a life with better things to do than read the article in such a manner that you visualise every word to create scene after scene, to the point where you can almost see the author spending months researching and writing it; if you’re not one to suffer for your art, then I guess one little thirteen page article is just another page to turn.
I’m not on top form at the moment anyway and reading this thing, putting all of my effort and concentration into reading it has knocked me back a couple of evolutionary steps. Now I can’t sleep but I’m utterly exhausted. The sickest part of all this, is that as much as I have come to admire and love Rothko, I don’t intend to do carry this topic onto the required 5,000 word essay.
Not that knowing this helps me sleep or anything.
November 15, 2008
A lot of us assume that time is little more than a linear device by which we measure the endless waning of our lives. Time is something to be heeded, cherished and captured. Time allows us to look to the future and into the past; it defines the present.
Time. Judged by the Fates through the weaving of twine into a spindled network of our existence, slipping by, ticking down click by click, morphing into Arabic symbols by which we effortlessly divide up our days and struggle through them.
Remove the measuring devices.
Time becomes silent, moves out of your control and into a boundless whir of direction and distraction and confusion. Time vanishes altogether, leaving a note saying that it never existed to begin with and that this was all a big joke. And a paradox, you say to yourself, as you pick up that note from Time, who never existed. If it never existed, then how did it come to write this letter? More pressing – how can a paradox exist with the element of Time removed from the formula?
By the Time it took you to realise that the note had been left, by the Time you realised that the universal constant had left you, Time had disappeared. Not possible, you say, not possible. Time doesn’t disappear. Of course it doesn’t… Time is no longer relevant, not even the Time you are spending reading this.
Don’t worry, keep your watch. It’ll come in handy when judging what Time to catch the next train home so that you don’t miss your favourite series which will be on by the Time you sit down on the sofa.
It occurs to you as the synapses in your brain fire away haphazardly, that small something you read about when you wisely invested wasted Time in studying philosophy: just because it is shown to be fallible, it doesn’t label it useless.
The measurement of Time is many things: comforting, convenient, organised, insightful, erasing, frightening, nihilistic. Useful, predictable – wait. No.
You woke up this morning. A blur, a mind smothered by sleeping pills yet to wear off combined with too much Time invested in resting yourself. 11am, it must be, it is, you say. A heave and a sigh, so much Time lost, so much opportunity gone, you’re behind schedule, you won’t get it all done in Time now. You make a plan, cut the unnecessary from what Time you have left and begin.
But Time … doesn’t exist. And you have been deceived. 9.30am. Your world shudders at the Time anomaly, falls apart and leaves you, for the rest of the day, utterly Timeless. Ruined. Unable to fathom not the disappearance of Time, for it never really appeared, but your sudden realisation that the measurement by which you live your life collapsed and gave you too much Time to ever be able to cope with.
We count down Time. Sometimes we are betrayed by our own illusion.