The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

July 6, 2007

Billowing and sovereignty

(From a letter) " - sometime would like to talk to you about this notion,
the 'smoothed' lifeworld and the 'peering' around corners that I think
constitutes memory and suturing - almost a form of billowing - I think
this could be a useful concept for me. softness embraces both mental
phenomena, mind, and the receiving, receptacle, organizing of things,
identifying of things, surrounding of things, in the personal world and
its extension, i.e. the 'peering' of the personal world. it's difficult to
come to grips with the 'depth' of the real, that lip when classification
is just beginning or just forgotten - when the real seems of a comfort,
presencing ... "

in billowing, the particulate disappears. stratigraphy loses the anecdote
among the sublime. neither singular nor plural. nor something revealed -
it would be easy, yes, to think through the sublime as a matter of revela-
tion, next stop on the mystical train. but there's no vector, no plateau,
no buddhas seated or otherwise, no intentional or contradictory language.

the particular is the particular is asthmatic, urban dis-ease, the body at
war, not with itself, but with differentiation. towards death distinctions
disappear. there is no other side.

"MR. KING [said] [...] The States were not 'Sovereigns' in the sense
contended for by some. They did not possess the peculiar features of
sovereignty, they could not make war, nor peace, nor alliances nor
treaties. Considering them as political Beings, they were dumb, for they
could not speak to any foreign Sovereign whatever. They were deaf, for
they could not hear any propositions from such Sovereign. They had not
even the organs or faculties of defence or offence, for they could not of
themselves raise crops, or equip vessels, for war." [...]

"MR. MARTIN, said he considered that the separation from G.B. placed the
13 States in a state of Nature towards each other; that they would have
remained in that state till this time, but for the confederation" [...]

(from Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 reported by James

in a state of nature States jostle, states and operators jostle, processes
jostle. nothing speaks unless spoken-to, when something speaking is speak-
ing as spoken-for. from such collusion, collocations, rights arise through
the etic; the emic, interiority, withdraws so that the membrane cloaks
everything except digital transmissions - goods, speech, currencies, move-
ment of men, materiel. in a state of nature, States billow forth, swell,
breathe, engender, Mona Lisa smile.

are songs sung? look, I'm putting forward a myth, not of origins nor of
destinations, a myth of wayfarers, neither mapped nor mapping nor nomadic.
look, I'm writing to you, here, see, in the absolute silence of protocols,
which, along of all the things, processes, states, and operators, are
soundless in the world.

look, she said, did we ever have a government.

(Three interrelated texts related to memory, billowing, inert)

1. Four Dead in O-hi-o

Several bars of the 1970 song about the Kent State student massacre came
on the radio; I began crying. First, there was the trauma of reliving the
event, already at a distance when it happened; second, there was the
energy and fulcrum of an entire era displayed; third, there was mourning
for aging - May '68 is almost forty years ago; fourth, there's the
imminence of all of this, as if it's happening now, here; sixth, there's
the incontrovertible bar, obdurate time-gap which portends a masquerade of
space; seventh, there's the realization that the bar is sublime if any-
thing is, and in fact the sublime lies within the temporal, not the
spatial, not with due or undue measurement; eighth, there's the integra-
tion of time's granularity with temporal distance; ninth, there's the
issue of internal time-consciousness and its presencing which is always a
form of mourning imminence; tenth, there's the billowing of time which
plays out psychologically in spatial dimensions; eleventh, it's as if one
might say, Oh, if only I could reach out, I would touch Four Dead in
O-hi-o, I would touch the song, the fury, the energy, the habitus, the
communality, the immanence of the burgeoning eco-political, the momentary
lapse in pessimism as against the most pessimistic of wars and bombs one
might consider the flower at the end of a barrel of a gun; twelfth, it's
the ringing of death itself or rather the horizon of death which lies in
any temporal horizon whatsoever as worlds are always already irretriev-
able; thirteenth, it's thinking through the playing out of these irre-
trievable worlds within the organization and granularity of the billowing
of the habitus, as if mourning consisted in watching the world of someone
one loves withering away; fourteenth, it's the recognition that such
withering is the foundation of the cosmos, Bell's theorem notwithstand-
ing; fifteenth, one only has to look at one's own withering, our cat for
example growing thinner by the way, her rounded and more robust form a
memory reconstituted either through video or photography, or, more likely,
through thinking through billowing, through the pleasure embedding all her
gestures in an indefinite and infinite world of spring and summer, which
was inescapably vectored towards this present and beyond, towards her
death which we pray is not immediate, not soon; sixteenth, recognizing
that billowing is a form of comfort, even among starvation, extinction,
torture, a form of comfort within which the smallest things are absorbed
and the temporal sublime appears as if in translation towards the glory of
an inconceivable Absolute; seventeenth, coming to the realization that the
comfort of the world is all the comfort there is, and the awkwardness and
pain of the world, our awkwardness and pain, is all there is as well;
eighteenth, it's as if Four Dead in O-hi-o never happened, it's as if that
energy were stillborn, our memories playing tricks, an accumulation of
subterfuges; nineteenth, yes we are living that impossible dream, impossi-
ble because of the stretch entailed as if implication were the fundamental
operation of the propositional logic; and twentieth, the gestural logics
of the breakdown of distributive laws - it's as if they're holding out
some sort of promise, but then the refrain of the song comes back, there
are bodies lying there, equally stillborn, there is the image of the
student looking up, towards the camera, someone dead and present, present
in the way our own deaths are present even in the most fundamental acts of
speaking, thinking, writing, this.

2. not now

  not now jennifer yes now julu
( j )r yes now julu yes now julu er yes now julu ot now jennifer yes
  now julu
  yes now julu_not now jennifer yes now julu
   _  */jenni/*
ffw jennifer
  not now jennifer yes now julu f
( f )r yes now julu yes now julu yes now julu now jennifer yes now julu
  yes now julu_not now jennifer  now julu
   _  */fer/*
  not now jennifer yes now julu
( w )r yes now julu yes now julu er yes now julu
  yes now julu_not now jennifer
   _  */you w/*
  not now jennifer yes now julu
( s )r yes now julu yes now julu er yes now julu
  yes now julu_not now jennifer
   _  */ill s/*
  not now jennifer yes now julu
( m )r yes now julu
  yes now julu_not now jennifer
   _  */uck m/*
  not now jennifer yes now julu
( b )r yes now julu yes now julu er yes now julu ot now jennifer yes
  now julu
  yes now julu_not now jennifer yes now julu
   _  */y b/*
  not now jennifer yes now julu
( t )r yes now julu es now julu s now julu nnifer yes now julu
  yes now julu_not now jennifer
ulu  jennifer yes now julu  jennifer yes now ju
   _  */reasts until/*
ffw jennifer
  not now jennifer yes now julu f
( y )r yes now julu yes now julu yes now julu now jennifer yes now
  yes now julu_not now jennifer  now julu
   _ */you die/*

3. eyes billowing government, soundless

next watching hysteric, yourself find lashed thing eyes, fall eyes her
bleak wide berthing worried, seemed plays, ever gaze, gaze prims shuddered
sea swollen, uncanny, stashed networks neural grace however hardness
sallow, emptied, sodden tossed neatly clearly whims harboring you're
memoire. histoire. face hollow cut inside world, fear ground unhallowed
am death. close knew think never me. parted good. pretty been parts
tackle desert. beyond desert dog dog. take welkin. living walking
kings signs. sign omens, omen harbinger. strengthens defeat parasites
memories glass plates wires. over speak consequence. run queens. queens
will. don't. gouge life. ferocity gall bitterness rescue rest. laid ta'en
spoken words yourself. it. shoot put maelstrom life, say. healthy. dead
sometimes eyes. death yes give myself. kill myself furiously. woman. man
wires, flesh, flesh. smell burn; wires garden cultivating see. think; wake
fireflies where. everywhere running plates. photography's photography
= y equations ( mov(i)es male sky. nighttime sightless light
equation grid geometricized scattered usual constants b sqrt(tan(a-b*x^2),
except obtained display. style specific given above, also below, collapses
phallocentric, perhaps real. faced collapsing linear version soaked.
well, potential, itself harden would otherwise scattering axis certain
closely, examined stream continuing restoration. equations, bound
inexhaustible conjures results turbulence loop, repetition artificial
over-inflated spill whew, softness stars. fucking dynamo universe.
barrier, boundary course lunge. incandescent gullet swallows production
potential lost, thought once hole black information carries passes
manifest themselves, en awak= sun. under galaxy, literally new survival,
eternal irretrievable them, phenomena worlds human calling arches world.
soft nay, information, this, possibility imagine oh, data-banking.
gristle, throbs thoughts. innermost survey waits accumulated sumptuous
forestall designed appurtenances fences designated equipment roughage
carrying them structured, heavily protrusions indicated nothing, raiment
set sparkings, firewalls literal depend doesn't intelligence. semblance
surveyance argue state; exist thoughts, never, not, illimitable off
corner, be. cosmos, worlds, description fecund accomplishes readily
orderings softest reveal, continues things hidden knowledge, billowing
memories, histories, objects, tial poten- membranes skeins, dies, real;
thinking, constitutes recompense. return, incontrovertible disappear,
finite, projection infinite appearance formlessness, forms settling-in
importance, vital garnering corner. everything, anything, something,
notion, talk sometime sovereignty times ... caress, illuminaries
concept useful almost suturing corners 'peering' lifeworld 'smoothed'
things, organizing receptacle, receiving, mind, phenomena, mental embraces
real, 'depth' grips difficult extension, personal surrounding identifying
particulate billowing, presencing comfort, seems forgotten classification
plural. singular neither sublime. anecdote loses stratigraphy disappears.
plateau, vector, train. mystical tion, revela- sublime easy, revealed
particular language. contradictory intentional otherwise, seated buddhas
towards differentiation. itself, war, dis-ease, urban asthmatic,
some. contended sense 'sovereigns' states side. disappear. distinctions
treaties. alliances peace, sovereignty, features peculiar possess did
hear deaf, whatever. sovereign foreign dumb, beings, political considering
crops, raise offence, defence faculties organs had sovereign. propositions
each 13 placed g.b. separation considered he martin, war." vessels, equip
processes operators jostle, confederation time, till remained other;
collusion, spoken-for. ing speak- spoken-to, unless speaks jostle.
membrane withdraws interiority, emic, etic; arise rights collocations,
materiel. men, ment move- currencies, speech, goods, transmissions cloaks
songs smile. lisa mona engender, breathe, swell, forth, billow nature,
wayfarers, myth destinations, origins myth, forward putting look, sung?
which, protocols, silence absolute see, you, nomadic. mapping mapped
government. soundless operators, states, processes,

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