The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 5, 2010

Writing and the Absent Center

The following piece is written using an interesting technique. Several key
words are chosen - for example, 'fraud.' Vowels are eliminated - 'frd.'
The resulting consonant chain is entered into a 1980s Franklin spell-
checker. The spell-checker returns a list of possible words. The words are
used, in list-order, as catalysts for lines, one word per line. Any
number of key words can be used for a text. In the following, a key word
provided the catalysts for the first section; each subsequent section used
a key word chosen to augment the meaning of the piece.

The key words themselves most likely do not appear in the text, which
circulates around one or more absent centers. The writing is always under
erasure by an uncanny other that almost never appears itself. (Even if it
does appear, it becomes only one of a number of list words.) This is of
course a model of writings inherent alterity, used as a means of thinking
through a text. And of course such a model hints at the possibility of an
infinite regress, alterity's other, and so forth - on one hand a useless
construct, on an other, a potential truth as revealed in the following.

the sexy body was found near the volcano's searing lip
skis and poles were fixed to silent genitals
a stale odor permeated lava, air and skin and sky
it was as if styli had inscribed an unknown language on the skin
lulu stalled, stared at the incised foreign markings
the writing was on a miniscule scale, nothing made sense at all
volcanic fumes, sulphuric, resulted in scaly, crackling skin
something was still missing from the horrifying image of the real
lulu moved the body upright, creating a stele effect
things were easier to read, but sex is never easy to comprehend
the son, sol, looked down through fumes, no answer was forthcoming

the inscription was formed from oddly styled tiny dots
lulu walked around the upright body trembling, in a daze
for the nth time she lightly touched the taut and written skin

her tongue ran over its nipples, she sensed an incandescent drug
the body seemed to dissolve into dusts and dregs of sky and earth
lulu dragged herself along the ground, her clothes torn off
travis, blistered, naked, from the heat, sang an uncanny dirge
the dirge was dark, the color of incisions on the upright body
soon, darts flew through the air, and the body glowed in answer
a dirk cut and set it free, its skin sloughed to the ground
it sank into the volcanic matrix, nude, never to emerge again
lulu drew an image in the dust, trying to remember everything that was
i draw better than write, she said, pressing her body into the hollow
her skin sloughed and scaled, as travis watched in horror
furiously, he dug deep next to her, on the lip of the bleak volcano
he scratched the earth like dogs against lulu's mewling cats
he dug deeper, until they both fell into the smoking hole

all that was left was a sack of emptied clothes
lulu and travis disappeared, sick of their burned skin, smoke and fire
their last gesture, sucking on each other's bodies' desperate organs

this was the beginning of wandering through lack in word and world
key and lock were identical, there was no escape
there was no luck in the world, and less in every oath and word
even now one thinks of the lick of lulu-travis
even now one scents the leak of body burrowed into body
the volcano lip turned in, to airless lid across the skin of everything

the world turned wilder, dangerous, beneath the festered lip
all bodies are weld together, all tongues and holes are joined
all words are wads of skin pressed tight into the mind
senseless mind and body wed together in constant mourning
red blood reminds of reddened lip and words
nothing rids the world of language, code, inscription
nothing connects, not even rods and lines in skin and bone
the world seems sacred writ as we attempt a true and real reading
the real wilts away as reading disappears
characters are welts upon (our) travis-lulu's skin
the characters are always rude, the language rude as well
lips and words inhabit worlds, forever burning us, in constant acts
  of dying

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