Putin d’oiseau! [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, October2014]

It is my feeling that Time ripens all things; with Time all things are revealed; Time is the father of truth. – Francois Rabelais

Let me be criminal about this. No, not criminal. Non-chalant? Reckless? None of these

reloj-derretido-de-dali-melting-timeeither. Let me be…surrealist about it, the way I misremember a quote by Dahli on the schizophrenic [actually paranoiac-critical] method: This procedure relies on finding the connections between the most absolutely disparate objects and ideas. The world total in all its parts is conceived of as meaningfully connected, despite the distances and times that keep it separate [1]. This is what? As in a dream, as in a nightmare, as mongrels, bastards and Nihilnauts are wont to do in Absurdistan. As did Salvador Dahli, the only human being to have enjoyed, all his life, the supreme privilege of waking up as Dahli every single day. What I mean to do is this: sieve through the choicest quotes of theory and fiction I’ve come across the last few years and see if a few… paranoiac–critical interconnections might not be unearthed. Ideally, this will be a jarring blend of rationality, speculation and lunacy [e.g. nexi that only signify at full moon].

On page 20 of Distant Reading Moretti proclaims: „The enigmatic quality of the new times… is channelled within the techniques of supsense, and reduced by the retrospective meaningfulness established by the narrative closure.
My mind immediately zoomed to the modern sleuth Sherlock and his BBC re-incarnation, one fiendishly dessembling, deductive B. Cummerbach. The suspense is there all the while as we tag along, much like Dr. Watson, trying to keep track of, not so much the plot, as the complex arranging and re-arranging of the clues in Sherlock‘s mind. [The suspense of disbelief is regulary strained to the point of breaking up into gut-busting, gale-force laughter.] There is suspense, yes, as the criminal‘s deeds in each episode is also an ongoing process with Sherlock and Watson hot on his/her tail. But there is above all the puzzle-work of clue, a meta-level of challenging, exhausting cognition. Ultimately there always is narrative closure: the sleuth ties up all the loose ends in a master class of deduction. I can imagine the horror that would seep into the empty space of not having narrative closure. The story would hover eternally in the unfinished parallel universe of fiction, occasionally intruding on one‘s resolution-loving mind crying out for „The end“.

An instructive case is LOST. All the maddening suspense was only resolved in ustv-lost-jacobs-cabinincomplete chunks which led to outcries of dissatisfaction. For example: leaving a monster of black smoke utterly unexplained is pure BS. The series-watchers, you, I and everybody we know, felt cheated. We had invested valuable mental energies in the tracking of clues, characters and storylines and many of them died silently in the wet sands of a formless Hawaiian Beach [2]. This series, for all its ingenuity, is and remains the gold-standard of reprehensible narrative conmanship. We were cheated out of retrospective meaningfulness!

Gwuuuuuuuurkk, why hang my inexistent hat, my invisible thinking cap on one lone Morettian phrase?

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. – John Locke

c6f3be83-c366-4986-8119-15b5ca8b7d2f-Close ReadingHere I am, still getting bloody and scratch marks in the midst of narrative brambles. I love hacking through my novels, cutting swathes through the lush, verdant prose, scything away at the well-numerated thickets of thick tomes, devouring ripe, low-hanging, pendulous sentences and coming out on the other side a well-fed trailblazer, wild-eyed and hungry for more. I am close, so close, no theoretical vehicles to fly me to elevated planes of distance and panoramic vistas. Yet, that is wherefrom I can hear the voice of Moretti call: At bottom, it‘s a theological exercise – very solemen treatment of very few texts taken very seriously – whereas what we really need is a little pact w/ the devil: we know how to read texts, now let‘s learn how not to read them. Distant reading: where distance…is a condition of knowledge. Shouted from up on page 48.
But of course, of course, Moretti means lit-scholars, those delirious savants of more literature than any bibliophile can aspire to cram into her or his free hours. Still, the vision is…vertiginous, horrifying. Let‘s not get away from the pages, the very foliage of the matter! Let‘s keep reading texts even as they fly in our faces, spiral down onto autumnal sensibilities or sublimate into cost-shaven digitality. Give me then, if you must, close reading, closest reading, even closet reading, in-your-face-literature where proximity is the condition of exuberance, the condition of holy communion, theological indeed, between writer and reader.

How to segue to the next quote? How to establish a meaningful relationship where the maximal extent of the nexus is the whim of my supersubjective consciousness, the progression of space by means of motion known as time? This next bit is about, not the transport of reading, the lunatic velocity of narratives as they propel us into the realms of fiction but instead stasis. And stasis, in the right circumstances, it turns out, is not such a bad thing. Stasis is not always equal to stagnation.

Liquid modernity, one would be quite right to imagine, whatever other characteristics 168787Bauman attributed to it, would surely be charactericed by a ceasless flux in social and professional positions. And if we hear the expression „social mobility“ our ears usually perk up hopefully, as we imagine a hard-working, tough-as-nails meritocrat slowly clambering up his way the ladder of success. Or flowing up, to stick with our metaphorical domain of liquidity. But, but, but….alas! Just as well one might plunge down the cascades into the brackish backwaters of the economy, even down into the benthic abyss of unemployment. [3]

Back to liquidity and brackish economics. „…the prussian military emphasized getting things right. …it defined w more logical rigor the duties of each rank in the chain of command. …Bismarkck‘s Germany this military model began to be applied to businesses… No matter how poor he may be, the worker who know th has an Schlacht_von_Leuthenestablished position is less likely to revolt than the worker who can‘t make any sense of his or her position in society“ (Sennett – not Bauman!, p.21). From my experience in the job-liberated market I can partially second this claim, though revolt is saying a bit much. Not being established is awful because it leads to second guessing one‘s value to society, in fact being unemployed is like a crystal clear lesson in nihilism: you don‘t have a job and yet you get money, it doesn‘t make sense; you‘re supposed to take up this job though it‘s not what you‘ve been trained for the last fistful of years, it doesn‘t make sense; eventually the money slows to a terminal trickle [social aid] and your flat out on your ass, aspirations come to nill and it still doesn‘t make any sense. That‘s admittedly the bleakest and most unlikely scenario.

Whatever the case may be, I do want to know my position [not for comparative status bullshitery, as the only status that counts is the doings of your immortal spirit] but so that I can get a sense of what might be „forward“ in terms of personal development. madoff100614_1_560Having a steady job, for example, is an almost incredible advancement after being on the dole for so long a time. Next step: get my own space again. Life, what a measly joke with its blasted cycles of bust and boom! Maddoff, in the can, what is he thinking? A fundamentally good person winding up in a wheelchair? Where‘s the bloody narrative?

Time lay at the center of this military, social capitalism: long-term and incremental and aboe all predictable time. …Rationalized time enabled people to think about their lives as narratives“ (Sennett, p.23) And without harping on the perennial theme of the accelerated time and compressed space of post/modernity, I do have the feeling that storylines become more and more difficult to piece together as the days and weeks are splintered into discrete events: the moment of purchase, the event of status-update, the extended moment of listening to a 3:30 iTunes track, the internet-induced orgasm, those long strange instants when the other talks and you figure out what you are going to say when your Goffmanian turn rolls around next, etc. I‘ll admit there‘s aerving-goffman-2-sized lot of classic culture pessimism in this but one does get the feeling there has been a bit of narrative devaluation on the stockmarket of the human condition. And in fact some of these very attention&time-devouring technological applications on which I for one know I spend more time than is sensible [and you might be with me on this], some of them try to put the plot back in our collective progression [towards what? the iPhone n? the PS5? death itself?] by roping us in via many a users‘ high affinity for pictures. It‘s timeline on FB and a kind of „story of the day“ app-amajig on Google+ , which encourages you to comment on your chronologically ordered images in an attempt to glean narrative order from them. Which is fine if you‘re the diary type and you don‘t mind those behemoths having your small data forever and ever.
Beyond all this, in the realm of flesh and elimination, we can ultimately discover something else, a different kind of temporality. Here‘s the hummdinger from Sennett: „Alone, they suddenly discovered time – the shapeless time which had before exhilarated them, the absence of rule for how to proceed, how to move ahead Their fresh page was blank. In this limbo, isolated, without a life narrative, they discovered failure. … They all face the prospect of drift.“ (p.27)
I disagree though, strongly. Shapeless time remains liquid in the oceanic sense: I have limbo_-_front1a chance to realize that it is infinite and, having nothing to do, I can immerse myself in this infinity. I stop thinking, I stop worrying, I flow out of the narrow, transparent tumbler of the capital I for a while. Drift the way an ocean current drifts. Limbo is not failure it is the beginning of mindfulnes, mindemptiness as one sage put it: one stops for a moment to take a look at the child-like ultrakinetic „I“, consider it, liquefy it for a while.

[1 {Actually: spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and systematic objectivity of the associations and interpretations of delirious phenomena.spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and systematic objectivity of the associations and interpretations of delirious phenomena}]
[2 Which aggravated the original injustice of people getting paid good amounts of money for pretending to be somebody else for five years or so on what appears to be, easily, one of the most jaw-dropping spots on the planet. ]
[3 ….but, goodness, oops, spatial dislocation be damned, I no have no said book w/ me, as I relocated to the NeuBad, the New Bath, the central nest of Lucerne vintage hipsterdom…. So instead of following up this line of inquiry, social/organizational position in liquid modernity, I rejoin Moretti‘s carnivalesque train of…lit theory. Except that, no, blood-damnit and No again, in this HMOS, hyper-multioptional Society of ours, on this sun-gob-smacked Sunday I hear loud and clear and inunfollowable the gym‘s iron-laden call to post-prandial [the prand amounted to a scrambled egg and a not-so-galactic but quite galactose milkyway bar] muscular exertion. This fits i well with my discombobulated time-management scheme du jour, ce-jour-ci. Like an avian-brained twitt[erer], I follow. Merde… putin d‘oiseau!]



About tmabona

writer, reader [bolano, DW, bellow, deLillo], runner, badmintoneer
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