The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

The text "If I killed myself,"

If I killed myself, would my work thereafter be considered the
work of a crazy person? I imagine readers looking for clues (if
there were readers). I imagine my theoretical work - like
Heidegger's - taken apart, not for deconstruction or discussion,
but rather for deconstruction of a certain sort, based on
symptomology - "We could see it coming, it's clear in the writing
as well." Then the writing is transformed under the sign of
madness and tragedy - it becomes bent writing, writing of a
certain sort, not wryting in which the body manifests itself, but
writhing, under the exegesis of the sign. A certain darkness would
hover over the depths, which are transformed into the depths of
darkness - the writing, a membrane separating darkness from
itself, but the same darkness, the darkness of the fissure, not
negation. For there is no negation in mourning or tragedy, and of
course everyone would have already known, as if everyone were
waiting for the occasion, the event, providing closure to the
wound, which is the darkness undivided. So one should remain alive
in spite of oneself, in the realm of the natural death or the
death through sickness, not disillusion or illusion; this death,
this new clean death, then opens up the writing to the layers
among darkness, which for the reader, has subsided slightly enough
to let him or her in, to the drowning pool, or what might the new
vocation of th writer be considered.

So the suicide might choose life by virtue of the sign and its
interpretation, and deconstruction regains its shift to the
margins. But now consider this further, as a game in which suicide
is the gambit against any form of deconstruction at all, as if the
writing were saying, this is it; this is what I have done, and I'm
done with it, and now be done with it - the last phrase referring
to a reading in an open field, or upon the surface of the sea, or
just below the surface of the sea.

And then the writing in spite of itself, almost like an organism,
twists and turns towards itself, 'what a wasted talent,' for
example, 'his work was always sick, always tainted, I knew from
the start there was something unhealthy about it,' for example,
'it/he made me uncomfortable, "and now I know why"'.

There is the argument that the world itself is sick, suicidal, and
that the suicide does nothing more than take that upon himself or
herself, that the suicide mirrors the world. It would be the world
sped up, the cartoon-world where everything happens quick and
flat; in this way the suicide points to the slow and dragged-out
deaths of the rest of us, the environment included. But the living
always see their speed, their moment, as natural, and the quick
suicide - a potential for everyone - becomes the signifier of the
aberrant: 'I knew something was wrong with him from the minute I
saw him.' It's the parabolic focus reflected back across the
universe, his universe. And so he, whomever he or she is, must be
taken seriously, as seriously as death itself, but no more. His or
her writing is contaminated; it can't be taken at face value, it
can't even be taken upon oneself without a certain risk. A
posteriori, the writing appears as if a priori black against
black, a grave writing, a writing of truth from the grave. But
what is this truth, if not that of madness? The analysis goes
round and round, circulates endlessly; the truth is that the texts
carry a certain smell with them, a sense of the ghoulish - 'you
shouldn't spend all your time reading that kind of stuff, you
know, it's not healthy for you.'

Then on the other hand there are the collectors - 'Look, this is
all there is, he made sure of it, there's no other writing, other
than that which you've already found, you don't have to keep on
reading every new thing of his or hers that comes along, there
won't be anything more.' A sadness and a topic, of course, and as
the years go by, the madness and taint recede, but so does the
work itself and the world of the work, until the world if the work
is only that which is reflected in the work, and there is no
other. So it becomes safe again, Socrates and Celan become safe,
and the current or currency of the current subject is sutured,
it's okay to read him or her, absorb the work which, after all, is
'of its time,' 'from its time,' 'it's a product of its time,' and
so forth. It's a package, as long as there are archives and
readers, it's a package. And then perhaps one that's scattered,
that scatters as secondary sources corrode and disappear.

'There's nothing to it, this death, I'm just uncomfortable
thinking about him at this point, I didn't know him well, but I
never thought. A lot of us are unhappy, but very few of us do what
he or she did. I never thought it was possible, I never thought
about it.' It would have seemed inconceivable. 'He or she must
have been sick.'

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