The Archipelago. Brendan Getz

Save this PDF as:

Size: px
Start display at page:

Download "The Archipelago. Brendan Getz"


1 The Archipelago Brendan Getz

2 There is a curious inversion to the term, archipelago. While it brings to mind a series of islands, it can also be seen as the sea that contains them. This movement between space shows itself on the skin, where phantom islands of blushing flesh are more than the sum of their parts. As a thesis, this body of language navigates past the sunset. It follows through to the unstable shores of the real found in fiction, while keeping one eye on the fiction found in the real. It s not one of those pictures which I cannot get outside of because my language repeats it to me over and over, inexorably. From behind rocks, a boat is heading into a promise of archipelagos and coral islands, then travels into more faded patches as into so much fog. Rosmarie Waldrop

3 The Archipelago

4 In 1959, the poet Ferreira Gullar wrote in the Neo-Concrete Manifesto, We do not conceive of a work of art as a machine or as an object, but as a quasi-corpus (quasi-body), that is to say, something which amounts to more than the sum of its constituent elements This thought (which I ll return to in a bit) emerged from Brazil, a name that also refers to a large island in the mid-atlantic. Early enlightenment maps depict the contours and location of the island, and many sailors reported it visible at a distance. Only this island is a phantom. It never existed. Brasil Island is a fabrication unrelated to the country of Brasil, but for a time was a real place in the mind of many. There are hundreds of such documented phantom islands all over the world, and some exist on maps still in use today. My name also happens to be one of them. St. Brendan is a documented phantom island off the coast of Morocco. This fact (and fiction) in conjunction with Gullar s declaration that a work is more than the sum of its constituent elements, is a prompt for me to anchor this thesis in terms of an archipelago. 1

5 Defined by the OED as an extensive group of islands, an archipelago is a formal structure. However the OED offers a second definition as a sea or stretch of water having many islands, a kind of foreground/background reversal from the first definition. This curious inversion within its own definition is something Gilles Deleuze might have referred to as an intensive form. It s also a relation found in the space of an art exhibition. I see it as a kind of both/and providing room to further develop questions around mutually arising relationships in the shallow water of the boundary, or a frame within a frame. My hope is to unpack an emergent property that shows itself beyond the sum of its parts, something akin to the space held by the hyphen of in-between, or the personal feeling of passing time. As for fiction, this word sprouts an urgent socio-political dialogue, edging into the conversation of posttruth. With the understanding that the mechanics of reality construction can be both beautiful and terrible, I hope to move past the binary and peer into the space of possible connective tissues. Under the guidance of past navigators, I ll follow the signs of my own name (which is not mine). Traveling through language, I ll examine its breakdowns and boundaries in light of the thinkers that inspire me. Their voices echolocate in low waves. Most importantly though, what it is to feel these poetics of relation (as Édouard Glissant put it) in terms of the other will be my primary focus while mapping islands of blushing flesh. 2

6 Ultima Thule Phantom Islands A Sense of Stability Sea Ice To Tender Language A Contingent Metaphysics Underlying Fabric Sunset Blush A Perpendicular Viewer The Ground Below The Predawn Hour Prussian Blue An Open Gate Between Them All Man-of-War Milky Way Blush II The Interstitium Blush III Neurons in the Midbrain of a Sixteen-day-old Trout Populus Near the Ports Close Listening Bind in Reciprocity Planes for Time Momentary Eternities A Jocular Roaming A Disbanded Faction Remains Labyrinthitis Temporal Bone Tides of Meaning The Archipelago 3

7 that island born in the desolate, gray sea of my heartache for you, now attracted me as the home of my least expressible thoughts. Vladimir Nabokov 4

8 Ultima Thule The Greeks referred to Thule as an island beyond any known boundaries. In a now lost work (unverified so possibly fictitious) the Greek navigator Pytheas wrote about a far away place he had explored where earth, air, fire and water combine to form a habitat beyond anything known or familiar. Years passed, and Ultima Thule came to symbolize the place beyond boundary an unattainable threshold where the sun goes to rest. In 1940 Vladimir Nabakov wrote the only two chapters of the last novel he would write in Russian. The first chapter of the unfinished work he titled Ultima Thule. In it, a painter is commissioned by a poet to illustrate a work of the same name. The poet unexpectedly moves to America, abandoning the poetry project with the painter. The painter is ok with the sudden loss of work, until his wife dies. Overwhelmed with grief, he continues the abandoned project himself. As a means of coping, he commits to painting the rest of this non-existent poem. In the midst of this, a man he knows unlocks the ultimate truth to reality a satori so to speak. This newly enlightened man tells one person what it is (his own doctor) who dies of heart failure immediately upon hearing this revelation to reality. The painter, feeling a bit suicidal in grief, goes to the enlightened man to demand the knowledge that killed the doctor. After a conversation of exchanging paradoxes, the painter is ultimately denied his own revelation. The chapter ends with the painter thankful to be alive, as his own memory is the only thing that remains of his departed wife. 5

9 Phantom Islands It has been customary in my family to be named after a Catholic saint, and St. Brendan was mine. An Irish monk, born in 484 AD, Brendan was called the navigator after a mythological tale of a seven-year voyage that included sea monsters and verdant islands. One of these islands was later named after him, although nobody (other than Brendan) had ever been there. The uninhabited island of St. Brendan, off the coast of Morocco, remained on maps for hundreds of years. Varying witness reports from wayward sailors helped to chronicle its continued and modest existence. As reports diminished in the twentieth century, the modern age came to expose the fact that the island of St. Brendan was actually a fiction a phantom island. No such place existed, other than on a map. This isn t a unique situation. There are hundreds of historically documented phantom islands, whose birth and death is marked by the maps that do (or do not) depict them. One by one they ve been struck from the cartographic archive (some of which were named Thule incidentally). The most recent is Sandy Island off the coast of Australia, meeting its demise in What makes St. Brendan unique however, is the fact that this particular island was named after a navigator whose voyage itself trades on a fiction a fiction for a fiction. Additional Note: The Invention of Morel by Casares riffs on The Island of Dr. Moreau both take on the notion of human plasticity. Morrel Island (spelled with two r s) is also a phantom island off the coast of Hawaii. 6

10 A Sense of Stability A desire to name can express more than the name itself. The sense of stability offered by the name can be a weaponized illusion (as in the case of Narcissus at the pond). The pond projects the illusion most effectively when the water is stagnant. It s the difference between the way the words regulation and protection are used in a political discourse. As if to ask, is the glass half full or half empty? It depends on the chosen words and how they re deployed. Selective censorship happens there, like when the word fake is attached to news. It s namecalling as an effective strategy for social coercion. Even if the pond were placid, meaning still would drift. The baggage of language weighs meaning down, and pins it to a convention or a mutation. A calcified layer can build, until it s impossible to see the movement underneath. Clarice Lispector once wrote, the name is an accretion, and blocks contact with the thing. When walking out on a sheet of ice over a frozen pond, the steps feel uncertain but not if you ve come prepared for it to break. José Ortega y Gasset wrote that language offers a portion of what we think, while it sets an insurmountable obstacle in place, blocking a transmission of the rest. Pointing out that we can t articulate ourselves with any hope for accuracy is a dark assessment, and seems likely to be the case. But it s fear more than misunderstanding that drives the divisions between people, who may take cover in rigid concepts. Misunderstanding opens a field of possibility if approached with curiosity. This may be what Keats called negative capability, or the capacity to comfortably dwell within uncertainty. Magicians are protective over their illusions, keeping track of the trick as a closely guarded secret. A great illusion isn t disturbed by knowledge however it only deepens as a result of it. In that case neither the magician nor the audience ultimately understand it. They both share in the mystery. 7

11 Sea Ice In 1908 George F. Getz named his son after him. George F. Getz Jr. would grow up to be an industrialist in Chicago, overseeing the building of the MTA and becoming director of the Chicago Cubs for a few decades. He sponsored an expedition to map the Antarctic, and as a result they named an ice shelf after him. Today the Getz Ice Shelf is the largest in the Antarctic a receding margin of measurement for several vulnerable glaciers. It s studied as a climate change indicator, a kind of canary that speaks to the melting of sea ice. The name has detached from George, who maybe never had it to begin with. It s detached from the ice shelf too, every time a new study cites it as a barometer for climate change. Its movement of meaning is now in the domain of instability itself. 8

12 To Tender Language the farthest possible for contact impossible of distance eye an diameter a cloud a verb to authored leaves not tender language meaning a name 9

13 A Contingent Metaphysics In 1943, Peter Schwarze became Peter Heisterkamp when he was adopted with his twin brother in Liepzig Germany. That name lasted for twenty-one years, until he would become Blinky Palermo at the Düsseldorf Academy, announced by another art student for his likeness to the mob affiliated boxing promoter of Sonny Liston. As a weaver of reality through fiction, their teacher Joseph Beuys appreciated the gesture, lending itself to the porosity between life and art. This likeness, or name for appearance, placed Palermo as a stand in for an art object it looks like a thing, so it could be called a thing, and yet that thing is not there, nor does it refer to that thing as a signifier. In the case of his name, it would not be that he became a representation of the real Blinky Palermo, but instead a kind of deferral of the real, an expression contingent upon the precarious existence of something else. The name is a promise a sign for a signified. Something the linguist J.L. Austin would call the performing of an action through issuing the utterance. It is doing something rather than describing. Words are not always tethered to a behavior, but can be a behavior in and of themselves. Not as autonomous entities, but well beyond a surface intention. Édouard Glissant wrote there will be no depth for you, if you underestimate the shore. Psychoanalysis has made much of this in one sense. In another however, it is simply the slippery production of language. It refuses the flat container, and bleeds into the depth of the margins. 10 A uniquely derivative, incomplete reconfiguration of language as a quietly bold, unspectacular silence between spaces.

14 Underlying Fabric Henri Bergson debated Albert Einstein in 1922 over the nature of time. The philosopher and the physicist met in Paris, embodying a rift between science and the humanities that has persisted ever since. It was thought Einstein had clearly won the debate, as he had written proofs for his argument in the form of equations. Bergson didn t have equations, but perspectives. A century later, we still consider E=mc 2 as an impressive and demonstrable insight. It helped to usher in the atomic age, although our concept of mass has evolved into a concept of energy. Quantum fields have replaced concrete particles as a mainstream scientific view for the underlying fabric of the universe. The Large Hadron Collider has dispelled the notion that the world is made of tiny, concrete blocks we can measure as mass. Today the great insight of E=mc 2 is actually an explanation for mass as energy, written in reverse as m=e/c 2. It s the same equation, but with a shift in perspective. The image, then, properly so called, of a suppression of everything is never formed by thought. The effort by which we strive to create this image simply ends in making us swing to and fro between the vision of an outer and that of an inner reality. In this coming and going of our mind between the without and the within, there is a point, at equal distance from both, in which it seems to us that we no longer perceive the one, and that we do not yet perceive the other: it is there that the image of nothing is formed. In reality, we then perceive both, having reached the point where the two terms come together, and the image of Nothing, so defined, is an image full of things, an image that includes at once that of the subject and that of the object and, besides, a perpetual leaping from one to the other and the refusal ever to come to rest finally on either. -Henri Bergson 11

15 Sunset Land is framed by the sea, but the sea frames itself in a sphere. If you sail far enough, you will end up where you began. It s indefinite space the space of the whale. Melville asked to be called Ishmael, before looming in on the watery part of the world. There he met Ahab, who wanted to feel something to hold on to amidst the slipperiness of it all. Although Ahab stands on three legs, one is a phantom. He professed his soul as a centipede, a hundred legs redundant in their grip to the white whale. Still the whale has no face, but breaches the surface of the undefined in white and turbid wakes. Moby Dick is a moody book but not in its affect. It meets its moods, and follows them down where the reader remains enrapt by the lines of the Pequod. I just finished it. It s a different book at 37 than it is at 18. Chapter 37 is titled Sunset. [The cabin; by the stern windows; Ahab sitting alone, and gazing out] Oh! time was, when as the sunrise nobly spurred me, so the sunset soothed. No more. This lovely light, it lights not me; all loveliness is anguish to me, since I can ne er enjoy. Gifted with the high perception, I lack the low, enjoying power; damned, most subtly and most malignantly! Damned in the midst of Paradise! Good night good night! [Waving his hand, he moves from the window] 12

16 Blush When the sun goes down over Berkeley, the west facing houses on the hillside reflect it from their windows. At a distance it looks like each one is turning on a light a pod of beaming islands. Across the bay in Sausalito the houses sit in a similar way, climbing down the hillside and eventually onto the water to become houseboats. It s a good backdrop for tourists taking pictures. I found this picture where it seemed to have been shot on the dock it depicts. Most likely it was left behind, deemed unacceptable due to overexposure. The poor quality of the picture opens up the image in wonderful ways. The hard edge of its square form is softened, allowing it to enter the round hole of the heart. It s a tender moment that comes through clearly. The gender is ambiguous. The relationship is suggestive, but unknown. The framing seems to indicate it may have been a novice taking the picture a stranger they had asked while passing by. Rather than standing, the two central figures prefer to lean on the edge in a matched body language touching the boundary between the land and the ocean. In this terraqueous zone, the frame finds a new image the overexposed surface of the blush. 13

17 A Perpendicular Viewer It s hard to deny a good sunset. Berkeley has particularly good ones, in that the clouds come in very low off the Pacific Ocean. There is something abhorrent to describing it though similar to a painting or picture of a sunset. It goes with that desire to hold on to something temporary, and loses its luster in any attempt to preserve it. That could be one aspect. My brother is a businessman, and gave me a coin as a gift. Under a skull it reads, you can leave life at any time. He is funny and kind. The momento mori can be a different kind of timepiece. I don t wear a watch, but I like the idea of them. Tattoos too. The sunset doesn t have to be about time at all or mortality, or anything existential. I know I m not thinking about that when I watch one. It does feel like watching the sun set, rather than looking. During the day the sun is in relationship to the people. It s good to seek shade the ultra violet rays can be harsh when they re very direct. In the early morning and the late evening the sun is indirect, oblique. It speaks to the back of the sky, and below the earth. This is another aspect to stand under the sky as a voyeur and witness a set of conditions in correspondence a perpendicular viewer. 14

18 The Ground Below The airport train from Oslo was surprisingly silent. When I closed my eyes, I couldn t tell that I was on a train at all. I had no idea that I was moving until I looked out the window. The sound of older trains never bothered me though. I like the low rumble to let me know the ground below is moving without me. 15

19 The Predawn Hour Here I am writing to you now from the desert, clumsily navigating at night. Although there have been a handful of recent electrical storms that have offered momentary flashes to the topography. Exciting moments to be sure, but terrifying in that the corporeal forms that flash around me could just as well be other people, rather than the Joshua Trees I assumed them to be. 16 I do love the desert though, in particular the predawn hour. The animals go silent. A stillness fills slowly with an uncanny blue, as if the sky materializes from the ground up. It is to sit in the swell before a wave, where space is displaced and the earth bends to herald the coming of a giant. Moyra Davey characterized that time in which Sylvia Plath would write as the blue hour, that numinous, predawn window of time before her children woke. When awake is of another kind, and the bleed of

20 Prussian Blue dream logic spills out past the page like the infinite distance in Prussian Blue. It s color experienced as volume where a monochrome of oceanic space rejects the boundaries between objects, and foregrounds the depth of the in-between. I m not in that place. It s an odd thing though a place I remember and long for, a past and a future. The space I am precisely not in. Maybe it s impossible to be there, a part of its necessary condition? I feel like that man from the country who pleads with the doorkeeper in Kafka s story Before the Law. 17 It s a short story, maybe a page and half one that reminds me of the stories my mom used to tell me, in that its narrative arc is so short it curls in on itself. The man is offered a stool to sit

21 An Open Gate before an open gate for the entirety of his life, perpetually denied access despite pleading with the fleas in his fur collar to change the mind of the doorkeeper standing in his way. Closing in on the end of his life, he learns the door was made only for him, a particularly lovely percussive moment as if to learn the sand box you were playing in the whole time is actually composed of explosive black powder. In this way potential energy is not released in a revelation, but rather increased and condensed through one s own involvement. 18 Painting seems to do this to me. The more I work at it, the more it dodges my understanding. It s a rip I can only open further by looking but at whom? Reminiscent of a door, or a window, it remains an absurd project of oblique communication. It s a desire for communion through the bars of a gate, certain to be denied before the law.

22 Between Them All before the law. Not even the fleas will help with access, but access to what exactly? The Other? Emmanual Levinas wrote, one can exchange everything between beings except existing. Even in love, a fusion of being is refused. It might pierce us, but the I still remains. Or not. The epigraph to Clarice Lispector s The Passion of G.H. reads A complete life may be one ending in so full identification with the non-self that there is no self to die. 19 Far from hopeless though, we still communicate. Mutual misunderstandin gs still find form. Even though it s impossible for me to know how my words are landing with you now, they are produced out of desire. Words arranged from the public domain, soon to evaporate. But that desire is perhaps all I can really offer, which is not actually in any of the words I ve written, but between them all.

23 Alejandra Pizarnik Jacques Derrida I cannot speak with my voice, but I speak with my voices. I have only one language, and it is not my own. 20

24 Man-of-War In a dream I stepped on a blue jellyfish. I was wading through brown murky water, waist high, and felt a squish and subsequent tangle between my toes. It burned. It was nearly dark out, but I could see the sparkling blue of a jellyfish in the hands of a tall man that appeared to lift it out of the water. He told me it was a Manof-War. He was wearing long gloves, and holding the animal above the water. I made my way to shore, and noticed my feet and legs were going numb. The man set the jellyfish on the sand and came up to me. I tried to talk to him but my throat was closing up, and I was getting short of breath. He told me, don t worry, this is going to happen. My body started to convulse in some kind of a seizure and I woke up. 21 The Man-of-War is a strange creature. It s not even a jellyfish or a single animal. It s a siphonophore a colony of interdependent organisms numbering from a few to a thousand. A floating tribe. Also unlike a jellyfish it has no ability for self-propulsion. It s at the whim and will of the wind and ocean currents. We don t know much about them. We don t know how long they live, or how many of them there are. We do know that the sting is nearly as toxic as cobra venom, and they are carnivores that feed on young fish (called fry). Their long tubes snare food through chance encounters. The blue bubble at the top acts like a sail, filled with gas (fifteen percent of which is carbon monoxide). There are right-handed and left-handed Man-of- Wars, depending on which way the sail leans. This guarantees even distribution.

25 Milky Way The night sky is frozen in a false stillness. Its milky way remains motionless, because we move together at great distances. A night vision might offer fluidity to form, but the lights of possibility emerge through a sensed imagination of the elsewhere. As a translator though, the reflective motion of the sea does more justice to the scene than my eyes aimed upward. But when the waves bend the moon, they split it with the shore. The cloistered stars percolate through the sand, and crawl inside the new ground where they inhabit the house of the elsewhere. Here the absence of the image is marked by a radiant pause a dream, in service of the real. 22

26 Blush II The blood glows inside my fingertips when I touch the top of a brightly lit flashlight. Beyond the red sun inside the skin, I can see the shadow of bone. It s a kind of reconciliation with my contents, like a very low grade X-ray. My body tends to blush a lot which has a similar effect. Although as an autonomic process, it can be occasionally embarrassing to have a spontaneous reveal of an inner landscape an unintended overexposure. It s like the skin goes transparent in vulnerable circumstances which is fine, except one doesn t always want their clothes to spontaneously dissolve while speaking publicly. It happens for me if I stand next to my own painting in an exhibition. It s not the whole body though, just a scattered red inkblot spread out over the chest, neck and face. They are a blotchy set of islands that rise when the tide is low. Joan Mitchel differentiated this weather pattern by describing big Joan and little Joan. Big Joan goes out to do the work with the people, while little Joan works in the studio. 23

27 The Interstitium The skin is known to be the largest organ in the human body. That may not necessarily be true. A few minor headlines were made recently when a new organ was discovered just beneath the skin, a fluid filled latticework of in-between space extending throughout the body, within and around many vital organs. It s been dubbed the Interstitium. In March the Times reported it as a widespread, macroscopic, fluid-filled space within and between tissues and an organ in its own right. The research is still out as far as determining its purpose, but it s thought that this network of fluid filled sacs may act as a kind of buffer a layer of protection. It may also serve as another form of transmission to the lymphatic system, possibly affecting cancer research. It has been historically missed because it s the first area to dry up when the body dies, concealed by its own rapid evaporation. 24

28 Blush III In undergrad I painted a light switch on the wall. It was in a place that seemed natural for it to be right next to the door in the classroom. It was rendered in the switched on position. The shadows really sold it as a space visually, but it was the touch that told you it was a fiction. Drop shadows are an easy cheap trick among contemporary paintings. Here I like that the pink square occupies the middle ground. It s not deep space, nor is it advancing. It s in-between. This is the space of the blush. It s touch without being touched a signal of activity like a beacon sent from below. A blush that gives notice from beneath blooms at the surface. A tender connection seen from the top but felt from below is a good ground from which to begin again. 25

29 Neurons in the Midbrain of a Sixteen-day-old Trout I lived with a neuroscientist for a while named Iskra. She gave me a book from the turn of the 20 th century by Santiago Ramón y Cajal. He mapped the brain from a microscope by rendering the structures of cells through meticulous drawings. A favorite is titled Neurons in the Midbrain of a Sixteenday-old Trout. It looks like a bouquet of flowers. Calla Lillies. 26

30 Populus Agate Bridge is an intact fossilized tree in Arizona that is estimated at 200 million years old. It s not a bridge however (not used as one), and it s not a tree either. When organic material is fossilized, microscopic minerals grow within the organic cell structure eventually replacing every cell with a small set of crystals. Petrified wood is more like a form grown from a mold. Although we still call it a tree, even though every last cell is gone. So where is the tree? I suppose we all might have different ideas of what a tree might be. There is an old photo of me with my family inside an Aspen grove. Growing up in Colorado, they were something to look forward to in the fall. The leaves turn bright yellow and red, and quake when the wind blows (they are actually called Quaking Aspens). They are a part of a genus of trees called the Populus. To look at an Aspen is to only see a part of a much greater whole, the actual tree is only an appearance of an individual. They are enormous single organisms, occurring in networked fields that share a common root structure. Estimated at 80,000 years old, the Pando Grove in Utah is possibly the oldest and heaviest single living organism on earth. 27

31 Near The Ports ET was the first movie I can remember seeing. It s much harder to remember the movie than the feeling it produced. On YouTube I saw the screen test for the child actor who played the protagonist he cried on the spot. His eyes were wide and trembling, as if to imagine a vital organ seized from him. Was it a precocious performance? I m not sure. He had the advantage of proximity to birth, before a concretized reality set up a rigid framework of belief. I imagine he was at his own metaphysical helm, directing his ship as necessary something easier to do near the ports rather than in the open ocean. In 2007 my grandmother announced to the family she was going to die. A devout Catholic, she asked for her last rites to be performed in her living room. There was shock and skepticism. It was true she had been battling a mild form of cancer for many years, but this was an unexpected turn. Her lifelong husband (my grandfather) had died years before of a drowning accident, and she had been living at home with my aunt who was a nurse herself. There wasn t anything acute to indicate an emergency she was vibrant, entirely calm and lucid. We spoke in that moment on the phone. There was subtext, a residue from the last conversation we had face-to-face. (It was about my stay in the hospital. I had spent a few weeks in the ER from an outbreak of internal bleeding, cause still unknown. The frequent loss of consciousness was the closest I had come. It was surprisingly comfortable. They gave me eighteen units of blood through a transfusion to keep me going. The experience was more painful for everyone else.) During the call she was resolved, and in a mild voice told me her life was full and good that she loved us all so much, but to wish her well to the end. A few hours later she laid down on the couch, in the same spot she had received her last rites, and quietly died. 28

32 Close Listening Do my feet have a secret correspondence with each other while I sleep? Will my body slowly commit mutiny to my will as I age, until the ship is no longer a tenable vessel? I remind myself I am a body, but the feeling of leaning behind the bow never leaves. If pressed to tell I d say I m up here behind the eyes, looking out from within. Still that s the likely illusion the self inside. Astronauts take the earth with them when they go to space. Not because they prefer the air, but because they are the air. 29

33 Bind In Reciprocity The breath of the body is the materiality of shared experience. To share an atmosphere is to depend on an interstitial space for life, one that binds in reciprocity. This notion doesn t diminish the self, but rather animates it in a state of becoming along with another. This precarious nature of existence is a mutuality that can be an access point not only to the other, but also to oneself. 30

34 Planes for Time According to the theory of relativity, those who frequently travel on an airplane age a bit faster than those who don t. Well that s not necessarily true. It s probably more accurate to say that time passes at a different rate when traveling at different speeds. On an airplane, time moves a bit faster. It is slight, and likely negligible. Not as negligible as the time that passes in pleasure. Unnoticed time slips by as if left to an unattended parking meter. But there are only so many time tokens to dispense. Depending on the type of game, they require more or less. I brought my cousin Sam to an arcade when he was seven or eight. The claw machine was all that caught his eye. More specifically the ipod in the middle shining in the four spotlights that highlighted its relative standing among the cheap gag toys. I told him those things are scams, and that was a lure to take your money. He should leave that one alone. Go play the games that please you as you play them, that way you never lose. We were halfway through a motorcycle race when I lost him to the claw machine. I barely had enough time for disappointment when I heard him shout. In one token he won the ipod. He held it up high to a handful of kids that witnessed the feat, and announced he was the greatest man alive. 31

35 Momentary Eternities a single eternity unthinkable my mind in time a series of eternities, thought vapors of indefinite space at the margins of memory momentary eternities laid back-to-back in a laminate pulp the hallway of indefinite doors pass by the one I came from I don t remember a form to fit the hallway will shift its shape through the next open door 32

36 A Jocular Roaming What have I done in the midst of all these dreadful washes of water? Simply piling up the affectations of youth spun circles, and fragmentary particles of pleasure. It could be something, for you and I, to keep close watch on despite the bright blue hue of trust. Or is it interest? Obfuscation is found in atonal neutrality, built onto the back of language and stolen in its use of storage. To the informed it s a norm by request hollowed out and found in the decentered nature that never was. A jocular roaming set to Mood Indigo astounds the stadium of naysayers and polyglot coagulants who lined up for Only the Lonely, but left when nobody played the hits. 33

37 A Disbanded Faction Remains When writing with a stick in the sand, space is displaced by the mark. It s moved and mobilized in a form of destruction. Every new word is a plough through the unspoiled soil of the page. The silence is broken again and again an absence parted, by the ever-expanding presence of a text. The mark of the word adds an aura of action, the figure to a ground. These figures conspire to erase absence. In a mass buildup they plan to seize meaning through what Nietzsche called an army of metaphors. If writing aims to deposit the lines of language in a series of punctures, each mark aspires to be a microcut, yielding a meaningful mesh of the previously solid sheet. Still, the sand is malleable, and the shore washes the work. When the order of the army is undone the avant-garde doesn t know where to stand. A disbanded faction remains though. They live low to the ground, and excavate the objects exposed by the tides subjecting their time to the sea and sand itself. 34

38 Labyrinthitis Last year a Utah family accidentally left their three-year-old boy in a fifteen-acre corn maze overnight, just outside of Salt Lake City. The mother of eleven woke up early in a panic, suddenly remembering where her son might be. He was found the next morning near the entrance, making his way out. The adults who encountered him that morning said he was afraid but speaking, although he couldn t remember his own name. The labyrinth leaves a sense of vertigo when caught in the middle. The same happens when two mirrors face each other. It s a suggestion of boundlessness. But vertigo is also a symptom of Labyrinthitis an infection of the inner ear. The convergence of listening with balance makes it difficult to navigate in open water, unless equipped with echo location. The subject appears like a shoreline a littoral zone of waves undulating a surface. Wittgenstein wrote, the subject does not belong to the world, but is a limit of the world. Maybe another way to say it is; where the world ends, the I/eye begins. A hundred years ago Frances Picabia skimmed the surface of culture for its vertiginous plunge below. This year Lynne Tillman wrote surface is depth, when nothing is superficial. Volume is imagined, but surface is sensed. The surface speaks for much more than itself. 35

39 Temporal Bone The inner ear bone of a whale is a commonly found fossil relative to the rest of its parts. It s small, but tends to survive through time. This is primarily due to its high density, which helps to preserve it long after the whale is gone. This bone has an added layer called the involucrum a bulbous protrusion that amplifies sound. Hearing underwater requires a different infrastructure as well. In land mammals, the tympanic bulla (or inner ear bone) is attached to the periotic bones on both sides, supporting the eardrum. These bones are fused to the temporal bones of the skull, as is the case for humans. In whales, the temporal bone becomes the inner ear itself, and splits off from the rest of the skull. This space of separation increases mobility to the inner ear, which results in better hearing over longer distances. 36

40 Tides of Meaning Language slips in time, with tides of meaning pulled by the moon of the populous. What was once sent out to sea may return to shore in another form. et animalia = ai laminate 37

41 The Archipelago Light comes in through the eyes, that s for sure but there is a reflection. Something is returned a portion that doesn t make it all the way in. It slips off the surface of the tear ducts. Bounces back off the mirror pond of the pupil, never to be absorbed into the brain. What s left in the difference? I can look right at the world and not get all of what it has to offer. It skims off my eye with that dim outline of a glossy reflection. A Van Dyck miniature image reflects the whole unfiltered story in tight detail, right off the convex colored hubcaps on either side of my nose. A film that is not my own. A reel that I will never see plays on my pupils in the moments they are open. My seat is at the bottom of the pond, from the other side. A fish. Where from my view the geese that fly overhead appear like murky blue dragons, and I write their mythologies. 38

42 For Gregg, Corrine, and Molly and all of my friends whose conversations grip my heart and thought, they are here. 39

43 Works Referenced Bardi, Juliana, and Antonio C. Marques Taxonomic redescription of the portuguese man-of-war, physalia physalis (cnidaria, hydrozoa, siphonophorae, cystonectae) from brazil. Iheringia. Série Zoologia 97 (4): 425 Bergson, H. Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell. Mineola, NY. Dover Publications, Canales, Jimena. The Physicist & the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, Camnitzer, Luis. On Blinky Palermo. Artists on Artists lecture series. Dia Art Foundation. New York, NY. Published Aug Cummings, William. Family left 3-year-old in corn maze, didn t notice until next day. USA Today. October 11, 2017 Davey, Moyra. Notes on Blue Published 2017 Deleuze, G. Difference & Repitition. Translated by Paul Patton. New York: Columbia University Press, Derrida, Jacques. Margins of Philosophy. S.l.: Univ of Chicago Press, Derrida, Jacques. Monolingualism of the other, or, The prosthesis of origin. Translated by Patrick Mensah. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, Fortin, Jacey. Is This Tissue a New Organ? Maybe. A Conduit for Cancer? It Seems Likely. New York Times, March 31, Gasset, José y Ortega. The misery and the splendor of translation. Translated by Elizabeth Gamble Miller. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ Glissant, Édouard Glissant. Poetics of Relation.Translated by Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, Graham, Keeley. Volcano in the sea revives phantom of St Brendan. Times, The. (United Kingdom) Gullar, F. Neo-Concrete Manifesto. History of Modern Latin American Art Course Reader: Whitworth University. Spokane, WA Hansen, Nat J. L. Austin and literal meaning. European Journal of Philosophy 22 (4): Kafka, Franz, and Malcolm Pasley. Franz Kafka: Short Stories. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Ketcham, Christopher The life and death of pando. Vol. 38. Chicago: DISCOVER, a Division of Disney Magazine Publishing, Inc. Levinas, Emmanuel. Time & the Other. Translated by Richard A. Cohen. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, Lispector, Clarice, Idra Novey, Caetano Veloso, and Benjamin Moser. The Passion According to G.H.London: Penguin Classics, Merleau-Ponty, M. Phenomenology of Perception. Translated by Donald A. Landes. London: Routledge Kegan Paul, Melville, Herman, Donna Carlson, and Richard Lauter. Moby Dick. New York: Modern Pub., Nabokov, Vladimir Vladimirovich. The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Nietzsche, Friedrich, and Taylor Carman. On truth and lies: selected writings. New York: Harper Perennial, Nummela, Sirpa, Thewissen J. G. M., Hussain, S. Taseer, Kumar, Kishor. Eocene Evolution of Whale Hearing. Nature Volume 430, pages August 2004 Parker, Katherine. Hy Brasil: The Metamorphosis of an Island: From Cartographic Error to Celtic Elysium. Imago Mundi 66, no.1: Pizarnik, A. Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems Translated by Yvette Siegert. New York: New Directions, Smouha, Eric. Inner ear disorders. Neurorehabilitation 32, no. 3: Tillman, Lynne: Men and Apparitions Kirkus Media LLC. Timmerman, R., Wang Q, Hellmer, H.H. Ice shelf basal melting in a global finite-element sea ice/ice shelf/ocean model. Annals of Glaciology, 53, Vincent H. De P. Cassidy. "The Voyage of an Island." Speculum38, no. 4 (1963): Weil, Simone, Emma Crawford, Mario Von Der Ruhr, and Gustave Thibon. Gravity and Grace. London: Routledge, Waldrop, Rosmarie. Reluctant Gravities. New York: New Directions Publishing Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus logico-philosophicus. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications,