See Particulars Being Various

October 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Simon Critchley, Memory Theatre

Poetry lets us see things as they are. It lets us see particulars being various.

Prior Presence

October 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Conversation

How can I, in my speech, recapture this prior presence that I must exclude in order to speak, in order to speak it?

Written Asunder

October 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

Karl Ove Knausgaard, “Handke and Singularity,” Archipelago Books 24 September 2014

Therein lies the merit of the poem [Paul Celan's The Straightening], the fact that it cannot be referred to other than by quoting it, cannot be retold, cannot be used for something secondary, and points to nothing other than to itself; in other words, it is singular, primary, the thing-in-itself, as a stone on the ground is singular, primary, the thing-in-itself. That is to say as close to the singular and the primary and the thing-in-itself as a language can come, because even in a language which persistently negates itself, representation is of course unavoidable. Where it reads ‘Grass, written asunder,’ I imagine, in all its simplicity, the grass that grows on the lawn in the dark outside the window by which I sit and write, and by ‘written asunder’ I understand a form of violence which perhaps — or perhaps not — has something to do with the way in which it is seen or represented.

[From an essay presented by Knausgaard at the Skien International Ibsen Conference, 22 (?) September 2014.]

Mourning the Lost Modernist Energies

October 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lars Iyer, “Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom: Lars Iyer Interviewed,” by Daniel Fraser, The Quietus 12 October 2014

Diagnoses of the death of literature are old news. We’ve heard it before. There’s a dying breed of cultural pessimist, which mourns for a lost world of old culture, for the time when Art and Literature were taken seriously. But there’s another kind of cultural pessimist, who mourns for the lost modernist energies that depended on the old cultural world as a kind of foil.

To Write Without “Writing”

September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

Maurice Blanchot, “The Disappearance of Literature,” The Book to Come

To write without “writing,” to bring literature to that point of absence where it disappears, where we no longer have to dread its secrets, which are lies, that is “the degree zero of writing,” the neutrality that every writer seeks, deliberately or without realizing it, and which leads some of them to silence.

The Direct Gaze Upon the World

September 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

Yves Bonnefoy, “The Art of Poetry No 69,” interview by Shusha Guppy, The Paris Review 131 Summer 1994

I completely agree with you that poetry is also a formal use of language. Indeed, only form allows us to hear the tone of the words, and it is precisely because verse is sonorous reality that words in it are no longer subject to the sole authority of conceptual thought. This enables us to perceive reality otherwise than through language. Form in poetry silences the conceptual meaning of words; it is therefore the condition of the direct gaze upon the world.

No Eye is Uncontaminated

September 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Man in Love – My Struggle: Book 2: 383

When I was outdoors, walking, like now, what I saw gave me nothing. Snow was snow, trees were trees. It was only when I saw a picture of snow or of trees that they were endowed with meaning. Monet had an exceptional eye for light on the snow, which Thaulow, perhaps the most technically gifted Norwegian painter ever, also had, it was a feast for the eyes, the closeness of the moment was so great that the value of what gave rise to it increased exponentially, an old tumbledown cabin by a river or a pier at a holiday resort suddenly became priceless, the paintings were charged with the feeling that they were here at the same time as us, in this intense here and now, and that we would soon be gone from them, but with regard to the snow, it was as if the other side of this cultivation of the moment became visible, the animation of this and its light so obviously ignored something, namely the lifelessness, the emptiness, the non-charged and the neutral, which were the first features to strike you when you entered a forest in winter, and in the picture, which was connected with perpetuity and death, the moment was unable to hold its ground. Caspar David Friedrich knew this, but this wasn’t what he painted, only his idea of it. This was the problem with all representation, of course, for no eye is uncontaminated, no gaze is blank, nothing is seen the way it is.

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