The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


Foofwa - This is an open letter of sorts. I've been working with materials
from Geneva for over two months now, not including the third trip itself.
In the irreality of the image - an image the opposite of the punctum, an
image surrounded by an imaginary gnawing at the surface content - I've
lost myself, almost become sick. Distance in time and distance in space
are both inherently obdurate, unbreachable; there are no jump cuts in the
real, and if I've made an error in video for example, it remains an error,
cut off from the source. It's not only the affaire-Maud (aM forthwith),
but the very notion that such affaires now, are at a distance; they are a
constancy. The Alps, the Aletsch glacier, retreat into the format of a
picture book, and with every step of that retreat, something is lost
within the haptic; touch has disappeared, replaced by "communication"
which already foreshadows the permanency of distance.

There is something else, however, which is the defuge or decathecting,
which began with aM but continued as time advanced. Every video I made
with the Geneva or Alps material involved a yanking-back; I couldn't
return to the measure of the real, for example, that the four of us most
likely felt in the grange. This relates to memory in general - in this
case, differentiated (in the sense of a formal operation upon internal
time consciousness) and exacerbated; to crawl back would be to be torn to
shreds upon the spikes of events, words, adjectives, vowels. Yet it has
been a long time since I've been so close to the bone with a subject, in
particular one so close itself to the sublime.

I'm tired of naked bodies and after aM, they become a kind of litter
reminiscent of war. And all the movements such bodies might made, from
falling and failing to flying and fleeing - spanning the continuum from
suicide to death - just so - not tiredness, no, certainly not arousal, not
disinterest - perhaps the flight of something which never really
approached. Day after day I've looked through image after image, tape
after tape, as if some secret would arise through special effects of even
juxtaposition; what occurred instead was an internal mapping of every step
all of us took physically and psychologically through that, and every
other, landscape.

Every organism is an organism of and by slaughter, every landscape, a
landscape of death. Hannibal's elephants haunt the Alps. Where nothing
lives always has fuzzy boundaries where the limited exigencies of life are
contested. I think of the unholy matri-patrimony of aM and what it has led
to, almost a denial that only Rilke was capable of. Actually climbing to
the bluff, the church, the grave, seems an impossible memory now, as if I
have robbed the experience of another. Memories always teeter on the verge
of recognition.

So this is to say, and not to say, that the work from Geneva and the Alps
has entered a period of dormancy, one with an almost-consciousness of
waiting. The rocks still gnaw at me; I think of the possibility of climb-
ing between the twin peaks near La Gruyere. That would be an _episode._

So the work continues, wide-awake, and has entered a period of illustra-
tion, as time distances and we become increasingly disinvested of psycho-
logical trauma, if not of psycho-history itself. I manipulate images of a
woman I don't know, have never known, among motions and images of the rest
of us. That this would lead back to Aletsch, through Blatten to Belalp, is
both a dream and an obsession. And we would be there in this false spring,
when the world supports clear skies and a kind of moody warmth that
appears after great exertion. And that one or another would be furiously
creating. And that that, would be that.

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