The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

September 21, 2012


To write on suicide, or death, or suffering, is always to make a
wager, not with oneself, but with the other: that the writing
ultimately is not a talisman, is neither sympathetic nor empathetic
magic, but exists in a realm of its own, where nothing has
consequence. Otherwise the writing becomes a cry for help, something
tawdry, beyond or beneath consideration. So the wager must be made,
the theory must remains as such, attributed nowhere, to nothing,
emptied, not of content, but of consequence. What, for example, would
occur if this were the last written statement I've made, publicly or
privately? What of the rest of my work, how would that be garnered or
distributed? The material possessions would be given their due, no
longer united as collocation, community, or collectivity, but
transmitted elsewhere, fallen into other and alien hands that would
efface the history I've taken so much care to preserve. Conversely,
the digital would be distributed, living within a phenomenology of
inscription and the corporate - for the digital is always corporate
and always inscribed - and thus would be disseminated, much as it is
now, until the material is forgotten, or the sites begin to close
down, one after another, and everything is lost. I have no faith in
the digital, but I put my trust there, that something would remain,
as if in an entirety, within its aegis - that each stroke of the bow
for example, would carry the movement of a human in its memory, that
each sound would be the uncanny resonance of that movement. What if
the movement were the last, that no more sound or movement would
occur, that all that would come after would be the remnant, debris,
residue? My father slipped away and then was gone and there is, as
of yet, no stone to mark him, nothing but the position-in-relation,
of my mother or other grave, or the graves of my mother's family. The
stone will be there, obdurate, remarked, unremarked against the
mountain where the graves are, but that absence, now, of the granite
also marks the absence of the analogic world, as both analog and
digital become other within new and competing cosmologies that return
to us the inconceivability of multiverses and space-time so near the
Planck's constant as to be always already naught, and forever, and
beyond recall or recalling-forth. It is froth. Perhaps "It is froth"
would be the finality of my thought, neither death nor suffering nor
suicide, but imminent in relation to stroke or cataclysm - what then?
That the description of froth is froth itself? I am writing this with
closed eyes, without the recall or resonance as well of the upper
portions of the essay; it continues and returns, but the return is an
accident. And I must clear up the feeling that R.H. has betrayed me
in the past, and has remained smug about it ever since - and yet he
may well not be alive, or in good health, or even capable of reading
this. I want to write on Azure and her work, this is something that
has been with me, a kind of thinking centered on her arrangements and
rearrangements, her mixture of craft and content half virtual and
half real, as in the work for example of Ree Morton, or what I
remember of the work of Nancy Kitchel. But Azure has remained with me
for so many years now, with a grace I could not imagine, and a
creativity which is always there and unknowingly bearing the gifts
of depth of wonder, which has kept me alive, within or without the
rubble that constitutes my thinking far too often. I am always
awaiting the world, I am always on the verge, and as I grow older I
fear that discovery may become nothing but murmur at the futility
of it all. So I return, still sightless, to the original theme, that
of the constituting of endpoints, within which one will be unique,
and begin the recession into history and dispersion that one always
fears. What we do with our books and belongings is continue a
process of retardation, holding back the decay, tending them like
good steward, so that they may yet add another century to their
well-being. They're dependent in a way that humans are not, and we
ourselves are not. We are on the lip or nub, not of the body and its
abjection, but just beyond both, near the precipice where the good
topples according to catastrophe theory; what remains in the valleys
are pools of time that themselves seep elsewhen and elsewise. The
only theory is that within which this self suffuses life and the
living; theory is always theory with its back to the wall, and its
back is our own. Thus there is the moment of loss when even
phenomenology stutters and becomes descriptive physics at best: one
may describe and describe, but multiverses and holographic horizons
remain hidden, beyond the pale. We look for clues in our life, for
our death - and clues in dying for our life. We hope there's
something more than the scattering angle. We hope, and there's the
precipice, and there's the end.
( now I open my eyes ) (easier)
( now I open myself )

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