Saturday, March 10, 2007

Lineation: The Right Hand Column

How to read the right hand column
I don’t want to think too systematically about this because it’s the challenge to the systematic that the role of the other column presents.

Can you get emotional about absence; can the lack of what is written on our right hand side really move us as readers? I suppose my most recent work is a more general attempt to answer this question by looking at the deconstructive and affective results of writing into material presence issues to do with absence.

Like you are at the edge of something, which you are, space is there if you want to carry on but you can’t go there. You can’t read space and yet reading cannot occur without it. Supplemental in the extreme, it is, of course, as I have already said, absolutely central to a sense of poetry. The gaps between letters are phenomenologically different to those between words. The first link letters into units of significance, the second parse them up into larger units of significance. But both are essential and relate to the embodiment of the experience of language. Just as the ear takes strings of noise and imposes a false sense of separation to allow for the reception of the noise as separate serial strings we call words, so the eye does the same.

So then it comes to another form of space, the semiotic event of poetic space. This space is larger in terms of actuality but is also an order of magnitude larger. In a piece I co-wrote with Blau duPlessis on her poem “Draft 33: Deixis” she questioned my definition of lineation as phenomenological and at the time she was right, I hadn’t thought it through properly. But what if there was, within the brain, a module for the arrest of the progress of language that results in the exhilaration of the fall into poetry? This isn’t really a rhetorical question. Clearly the brain is wired for rhythm both aural and visual, if not then art would not work/exist.

Which takes me back to the column. Fall in/over there. If it is a vortex of air then rise up in its warm currents or zoom down with its gravitational pull. Step over it like a wet floor never to dry, or over dog shit. Turn your back on it and feel its draftiness, or lean over it and revel in the vertigo. Dump stuff there if you want, or believe in ghosts and aliens because of it. If you are embittered, mutter in the blank column of self (right)eousness about feeling (left) out in the normal scheme of things. In my second book I imagine the right hand column as an empty, jagged vortex into which the spirits of the dead are released, or it could just be a place to sit and be in silence and absence and feel at peace.

What should we call this nearlyalwaysemptyexcessive zone? I call it the space of poetry.
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