The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


Ground zero (first version)

Zero is ground down; the ground has no depth; the ground is flattened;
ground is always already charnel-hus; ground is always killing-field;
ground is replete, fecund, historic; history is flattened; ground is
characterized by the _trail_; the trail crosses the ground; the ground is
obdurate, inert, among and within the trail. The ground trails the trail;
the trail trails the ground.

Ground is space, now this is space, now this is time, this was time;
ground is, this is time now, this is space there.

Ground zero is the ground of the wild, the trail of the wild, its call or
calling, kill or culling. Ground zero is the table-tabulation of the
ground, part-objects of plants, animals, organic debris; ground is always
already debris. The ground does not suffer: the suffering of the ground is
our suffering: the ground is contaminated with our suffering.

Our suffering is the suffering of the ground - which is not the suffering
of the ground - which does not suffer - our suffering is the table-
tabulation, the unknown, unaccounted, unaccountable, unaccounted-for basis
of data, the blurring of data: all this construct of the human upon
absolutely nothing.

It is here that the wild parts the Wild, that the Wild decomposes - not on
the technological, on the subsequent extinctions, on the devolving of
extinctions - but on ground zero, on table-tabulations - from the begin-
ning an established fact.

>From here the strategy is the move to the tabled, the move which is a
history of the process of tabling: the recognition, not of the Wild, but
of its loss inherent within the Wild. Which isn't to say a foregone
conclusion, but a technology gone wild, infected, infecting.

Now what remains: ground zero already charnel-hus, slaughtered animals,
what shall one do now? The question parallels standard 'what is to be
done?' - to which there is no answer. Ground zero - not the Ground Zero of
9/11 - but the ground zero of the trail, the trace - must be absolutely
understood and understood absolutely: that the Wild has always been
sundered to the extent that human languaging and culture have operated
through the _trajectory of the hand-ax_ - from stone through reification
to ax, from ax through exchange to ax. The trajectory refers to the
_skittering_ of the trail across ground zero. The skittering is scythe and
dominion, the distinction that makes a distinction: live and dead, hunter
and prey, herd and cull, grain and territory.

Once there is travel, tool, reification, ground zero is both relinquish-
ment and harboring. The violence of writing is here within table-
tabulation, the sintering of ground zero, the remeasurement of trail, the
contestation of trail and table.

Why is any of this a matter of concern? Because the Wild continues to be
romanticized, farmed-out, mystified; the sublime itself is the Wild placed
beyond reach, the distance of a troubling absolute. I believe one must
begin otherwise - with Holocaust, with disappearance. This needs more than
text or voice, more than lip service. It's useless to pretend that the
issue is "management" or "wildlife corridor" or "dark matter" or "natural
selection" or even "selection" given the fold-catastrophic (re: Thom)
nature of extinction. The horror inheres to flattening, to trail. It is
not an addition, not techne, not technology. As population increases, it
is simply coming into greater view. The issue is a fundamental geopolit-
ical one. The only solutions may well be enclaves, data-bases, DNA banks,
regions within hunting or poaching are punishable by death. This is far
too little too late. It is the best chance there is. It does not address
the future collapse of culture world-wide as pollution and climate
rampage - these will happen. It does address the J.G. Ballardic view of
the end of things and that is all we can hope for.

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