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A MAGAZINE OF LITERARY MISRULE Edited by Jenn Ashworth and Charlie Gere No. 0 - Autumn 2017 Writing by Brian Baker Tim Etchells Maria Fusco Sarah Hymas Nathan Jones Sharon Kivland Doris Rohr Chimene Suleyman Photographs by Claire Archibald 1


Table of Contents LUNE: a journal of disorder by Jenn Ashworth Why is it called LUNE by Charlie Gere Applicable tenses of connection: Delve by Claire Archibald The Audio File by Brian Baker Applicable tenses of connection: Dissolve of Unknown by Claire Archibald Mission of Jobbin; A true bad story of Crime in Endland (sic) by Tim Etchells Applicable tenses of connection: Fall by Claire Archibald The Critic as Gesture or John Malkovich’s middle name is Gavin by Maria Fusco Applicable tenses of connection: Hunker of future then by Claire Archibald Towards a stranding by Sarah Hymas Applicable tenses of connection: Hurtle by Claire Archibald It will be called Unicode Class Vernacular (UCV) by Nathan Jones Applicable tenses of connection: If we could isolate our silence by unwording by Claire Archibald ENVOIS XX: Letters from JL to SK 1972–1973 by Sharon Kivland Applicable tenses of connection: Tinge of always by Claire Archibald Farewell Terpsichore – an improvisation on smiles, shadows and breath by Doris Rohr Applicable tenses of connection: Webs of pare by Claire Archibald Nowhere to Sing by Chimene Suleyman Editors’ and Contributors’ biographies


LUNE: a journal of disorder. Jenn Ashworth Lune is a river. It’s a coin. It’s a bird and a madman and a phase of the moon. It’s a geometric figure of the intersection of two arcs. It collides, flows and stutters, stops and grows. It webs and trickles across boundaries and marks the differences between here and there. Lune disobeys, overflows, makes a nuisance of itself. It’s a trick of the light: hardly there at all. Lune is curious about the community building potential of small press publishing and literary journalism. Lune is special, not specialist (in other words, Lune is anti-silo, and anti-disciplinary rather than interdisciplinary). We’re not interested in obedience. Sometimes writing is dangerous. It unfashions. Lune publishes the best of what is submitted. This might be memoir / essay / review / fiction / biography / criticism / manifesto / or even poetry and will most often be writing that shifts and judders between any and all of these forms. We are also looking for work that uses new forms, media and technologies, including hypertext / moving image / sound and anything in between. We’re not interested in: uncritical genre work, straight-faced memoir, fiction or argument that confirms, comforts or settles. Lune hosts an irregular flow of British experimental writing with an emphasis on diversity of opinion, thought and modes of expression.


Editorial Charlie Gere So why is the magazine called LUNE? To begin with it was a kind of joke. Jenn and I had been discussing various literary magazines published in this country. We agreed that Granta was probably the most prestigious, but also perhaps a little grand. I had been banned from driving, so was spending a lot of time on the bus in order to get to work. I did what I normally do on buses, read and stared out of the window alternately. The 81 bus from Kirkby Lonsdale to the Lancaster Bus Station goes through the southern part of the Lune Valley, named after the river that runs from the fells near Orton through Lancaster, issuing out into Morecambe Bay. Older versions of the river’s name are enfolded in both the place I live, Kirkby Lonsdale, and where Jenn and I work, Lancaster University. I remembered that Granta was named after a medieval name for the Cam, the river that runs through Cambridge, thus signalling its connection to that ancient university (it was founded there in the late 19th century). I thought it would be funny to name our magazine after the river that gives our far less ancient northern university its name. Jenn liked it, and it stuck. I also liked it because I live very near the river at Kirkby Lonsdale, and often walk alongside it, past Ruskin’s View to the Devil’s Bridge. The river was a kind of arterial connection between home and work, and naming the magazine after it was a strong statement of it and me, and Jenn all belonging, in different ways, to a certain place

But of course jokes of that sort are always sources of more interesting ideas. Lune suggested a wild confusion of associations, through and on which Jenn riffed in our first manifesto. ‘Lune is a river. It’s a coin. It’s a bird and a madman and a phase of the moon. It collides, flows and 4

stutters, stops and grows. It webs and trickles across boundaries and marks the differences between here and there. Lune disobeys, overflows, makes a nuisance of itself. It’s a trick of the light: hardly there at all.’ Determined not to be outdone in the making of fugue connections I added that it was a geometric figure of the intersection of two arcs, and then discovered that Lune is a generic name for a river with an oxbow. The Lune has a number of oxbows, so it seemed a plausible, if unprovable, etymology. I liked the fact that the shape of an oxbow is a U, which is also a letter in LUNE, which I tried to incorporate into some designs for a logo. One point where the Lune nearly becomes an oxbow is below Ruskin’s View in Kirkby Lonsdale. The view, looking down on the river from a path just beyond the churchyard, is so named because, Letter 52 of Fors Clavigera, Ruskin declared that ‘The valley of the Lune at Kirkby is one of the loveliest scenes in England – therefore in the world’. I wonder if Ruskin was thinking about the Lune when defining his neologism ‘illth’, which he intended to denote the opposite of wealth, as normally understood. Illth is the failure to use material possessions properly, which he compares to ‘pools of dead water, and eddies in a stream (which, so long as the stream flows, are useless, or serve only to drown people, but may become of importance in a state of stagnation should the stream dry); or else, as dams in a river, of which the ultimate service depends not on the dam, but the miller; or else, as mere accidental stays and impediments, acting not as wealth, but (for we ought to have a correspondent term) as "illth" causing various devastation and trouble around them in all directions.’ Thinking about this occurred to me that an oxbow is where the course of something backs up on itself and reverses direction, which seemed apt for what we are trying to do with writing. The idea of reversal seemed ominous and reminded me of something I had read about Greek tragedy, which involved turning and reversing. The Greek for ‘to turn’ is strephein, and ‘a turn’ is a 5

strophe. A sudden turn or reversal is a katastrophe, from which we get our word catastrophe. It actually refers to the point in Greek tragedy when the chorus reverses direction and goes back along the stage in the opposite direction. This signals the reversal of fortune of the main protagonist and the resolution of the drama. Beyond the name of the Lune as a source of associations, puns and so on, to name the magazine after a river was apposite for other reasons, some of which bring in the question of catastrophe. In the winter of 2015, during Storm Desmond, the Lune reached a peak flow of 1700 cumecs, the highest ever recorded. Its normal flow is 36 cumecs. I get this information from the website of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, one of whose physical centres I can see from my office window. A cumec is a cubic metre per second, as a unit of rate of flow of water. According to the CEH website. It is very difficult to visualise quite what volumes of water these flood flows represent. To use a very widely adopted comparator, an Olympic swimming pool is 2,500 cubic metres; the flood peak of 1,700 cumecs (cubic metres per second), is equivalent to more than 41 Olympic swimming pools every minute. This would fill the auditorium of the Royal Albert Hall in less than a minute. I remember the day of the flood very well. I had gone to a meeting in Coniston in the Lakes, and had great trouble getting back. The whole of the North West was thrown into turmoil because of the storm and the resulting flooding and power cuts. I didn’t go and look at the Lune when I did eventually get back. I was just relieved to be home. Now I wish I had, just to witness the extraordinary, violent power of the water. The aftermath was dramatic enough; the recently rebuilt path by the river was chewed up as if it had been eaten by a vast animal. The river is


normally constrained, but, in the right conditions, can become extraordinarily unruly, refusing and overflowing its banks, getting where it should not be, transgressing bounds violently and savagely. I suppose this is bit like writing, normally kept within the disciplinary boundaries, borders, and banks, and disciplined by those banks to behave and to be ignored. But, in the right circumstances it can break out violently, reveal to us something of the contingency and danger of things, and radically alter the surrounding landscape. Writing after all is often describe in liquid terms, as flowing, or being blocked, with writers feeling the pressure to write, a very hydraulic metaphor. This is perhaps why rivers often feature in the work of modernist writers concerned with breaching the bounds of writing, overflowing its banks, and going where it should not. One example is Eliot’s ‘Dry Salvages’, the third of The Four Quartets. The poem’s beginning evokes the Mississippi River, and captures something of the potentially violent nature of all rivers, even the humble Lune. I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable, Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier; Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce; Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges. The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable. Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder


Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting. Perhaps the most important Modernist literary river is the Liffey in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, personified in the figure of Anna Livia Plurabelle. The novel (if it can be called that) famously starts ‘riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs’, thus yoking together the swerves and curves of the river’s course to the novel’s structure. Finnegans Wake is a river and in it the novel form is violently overturned, and transgressed in a torrent of words breaking, breaching its banks in a torrent of words, a kind of literary equivalent of what the Lune did in Storm Desmond. So perhaps, in the end, that it why the name LUNE seemed so apt for a magazine of experimental writing. The river is a compelling metaphor of the otherness of writing that we choose to forget, much as Eliot’s dwellers in cities and worshippers of the machine forget the godlike power of the Mississippi. We hope in this publication to invoke some of the power of writing to transgress its boundaries and banks, as Joyce did in the Wake, and thus to give us a new understanding of the world around us other than that we take for granted.



The Audio File Brian Baker

1. I cannot remember when I first read ‘Funes the Memorious’, the short story by Jorge-Luis Borges that considers total, and overwhelming, recall.1 Labyrinths has, it seems, always been with me. I have bought, or have been given, several copies of that book over the years. I do not consider myself a collector, though I have a house and an office full of books. If I were a collector, Labyrinths would be, I am sure, the book upon which my monomania would fix.

What I am to tell you concerns the conjunction of an audiotape and an empty room. Last year, let us say, I was invited to participate in an archival project. My doctoral supervisor had recently died and his papers required cataloguing. Too large a task for one scholar, I was asked to work through several box files of audio cassette tapes. Over five years, my supervisor has slowly been retreating into blindness, a hereditary condition that he had anticipated and attempted to circumvent. Through recording on audiotape rather than writing or typing, the Professor embarked on producing his own aural archive, and it was this that I was to catalogue and annotate.

My first task was to locate a tape player, as I’d long ago abandoned cassette tape and wholly embraced the clean, spaceless constellations of the digital archive. My first thought was to find the kind of machine once used by audio typists, who transcribed spoken dictation on to paper 1

Jorge Luis Borges, ‘Funes the Memorious’, Labyrinths (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), pp.87-95.


using machines the typist could pause with a twitch of her foot. This treadle, or foot-switch – something akin to powering an acoustic bicycle – enabled even the most challenged touch-typist to keep up with the flow of dictation. Sadly, my enquiries in this matter soon proved fruitless. Such machines were beyond even ‘legacy’ status and were now utterly obsolete. I wondered whether the Professor had considered the technological obsolescence of his own archive, increasingly vulnerable to inaccessibility.

I am happy to report that I managed to find a working Philips tape recorder, the type with ‘piano’ keys, in a dusty storeroom of the Sociology Department and, with the delicate ministrations of one of the older secretarial staff – she was something of an audiophile – the machine was returned to working order. Having sourced some cassette tapes, I did notice a curious anomaly in its performance, however. In the early stages of annotating the Professor’s tapes, I thought to repeat his own procedure by recording brief notes on tape myself, at the end of research sessions. Making an error in dictation, I rewound to an appropriate branching point and recorded over (as I thought) my previous words. Through some deficient operation of the recording head, the first recording was not erased, but simply overwritten, resulting in a palimpsest of voices. I saw that this would impose an unlooked-for discipline to my recorded thoughts, if I had no opportunity to erase and start again, and I soon abandoned the procedure, reverting back to notebook and pencil.

The first series of tapes, which were dated 1995, were direct reproductions of the Professor’s voice, a warm baritone. I hardly think the tape had been played once since recording, so clearly and sonorously did his voice rise from the machine’s small speaker. He spoke as I remembered


from our supervisions, with certitude and exactness. He had served for years as the Head of Department and this tape, recorded soon after he stepped down, reflected his commanding presence and character. He announced himself happy with the direction his research was taking, the time and energy he now had to inform these projects, and a renewed enthusiasm for the competitive nature of his chosen field. He mentioned two colleagues (and competitors) most notably, Professor A. Da Riza and Dr Athers, with whom he maintained a disputatious, if cordial, relationship.

A dozen sessions passed in listening to the Professor’s thoughts, recorded intermittently over the course of an academic year. The tone and matter was unvarying. I must confess to a sense of lassitude towards the end of these sessions. The warmth of the Professor’s voice, and in no little effect the repetitious matter of the recordings, often brought on a state of ennui only relieved by a pot of strong coffee and a brisk walk across the University square to the library.

Such enervation sapped my enthusiasm for the project, and I began to regret accepting the invitation. My attention strayed to other matters and progress slowed. I relay this in order for you to understand my relation to the Professor, who, in provoking my disaffection from beyond the grave, seemed to repeat the worst periods of my doctoral study. One December evening, close to Christmas, I abandoned the effort entirely, I gave myself over to the holidays, and the products of the distillery.

Returning to the box files in the New Year, I noted a large gap between the spring of 1996 and the winter of 1997, some 18 months. The tape manufacturer had changed, and the writing on


the inlay card was thicker and more deliberate. I restarted my efforts with the first dated tape of 1997.

As I listened, the Professor was revealed to be changed man. The baritone voice was sharper; the sentences more halting; the syntax often awry. He no longer spoke of Prof. A. Da Riza or Dr Athers. His attention was entirely focused on something that had happened while he had been recording his dictation, on 14 November 1997: My God, man. How could this be explained? I reassert: up again to record. Forgot my notes, which were on the dining room table. I retrieved them, then back to the recognition that I’d left the machine running. Stopped recording and then skipped back. But I did not go far enough. As I pressed play on the machine, I heard a voice on the tape. That voice was not my own. My God, Who was it? What was it?

2. I recognised the nature of this occurrence immediately, but neither through personal nor practical experience. Some years before, I had published a paper on Electronic Voice Phenomena, by which the voices of ‘spirits’ are captured using audio technologies such as cassette tape or, more recently, digital recording devices.2 This phenomenon was first recorded by a man called Jürgenson, who in attempting to capture birdsong in the French countryside, seemed to have imprinted the voices of the dead on his recordings. This technique was popularized by a Latvian psychologist by the name of Konstantin Raudive, whose book Breakthrough was a great popular success. Raudive claimed, after recording in empty rooms, to 2

Brian Baker, ‘Tape Spectra’, The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, issue 11 (2012) .


have discovered on the resultant recording a polyglot dialogue of voices, coalescing from the hiss of the audiotape’s imperfections. I own no great skills as a psychologist myself, but it seemed pertinent to me that Raudive had lost his own mother a short time before he conducted his experiments, and his transcriptions of her voice calling to him appeared to resemble nothing more than mere projection.

Joe Banks, in his Rorschach Audio project, offers a strictly materialist reading of this phenomena. He dismisses the idea that these could be the voices of the dead, or spirits. Instead, he believes they constitute an example of the human capacity to make pattern from randomness, meaning from the void. Banks considers EVP recordings to be physically real material phenomena whose original nature EVP researchers have fundamentally misunderstood.3 The experiments simply repeat psychological processes by which human beings project meaning onto meaningless phenomena, such as in the Rorschach blot tests. In Banks’s terms, EVP researchers misunderstand the nature of their own experiments. Their true subject is themselves.

The English essayist, Tom McCarthy, asserts the centrality of the experience of death and loss to modern communications technologies. Alexander Graham Bell assumed that the telephone could be used for speaking to the dead, and in particular to his own lost loved ones, notably his brother Melville, with whom he made a pact to create such a necro-phone (if I may be permitted the neologism).4 McCarthy notes that Bell remained a sceptic about the survival of


Joe Banks, Rorschach Audio: Art and Illusion for Sound (London: Disinformation, 2012), p.115; see also Joe Banks, ‘Rorschach Audio: Ghost Voices and Perceptual Creativity’, Leonardo Music Journal, 11: 2001, 77-83. 4

Tom McCarthy, ‘Calling All Agents’, The Mattering of Matter: Documents for the Archive of the International Necronautical Society (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012), 162-205 (pp.176-7).


the soul after death, but only because his brother never called.5 McCarthy suggests that ‘you’ll find histories of loss, and of imagined underworlds, lurking inside all media’, and also notes that Raudive’s experiments, where the ‘blank, hissing intervals in audiotape contained dead people’ […] ‘found huge traction among the bereaved in the mid 20th century’.6 One can surmise that many of those bereaved had tape recorders of their own, and had made voice recordings of their family and friends with this technology at gatherings or holiday periods. Perhaps the voices of the loved ones were not entirely lost, but could not be recalled. Perhaps the tapes had been put away in haste, or had drifted to the back of a dresser drawer, or had been put in the wrong box. Perhaps they had forgotten the timbre, the tone or the lexis of the voice of their father or mother, their brother or daughter.

I confess myself an agnostic on these matters. I am neither a strict materialist, nor am I a spiritualist. I do not know whether there are voices of the dead on EVP tapes, or whether there are no voices there at all. I suspect that the circuit between loudspeaker, human ear, and recording head is something of an occult one.

3. The discovery of this crucial tape, of course, immediately rekindled my interest in the project. My first task was to try to locate the tape upon which the Professor had heard the voice of the other, the emanation of the empty room. Sadly, all the tapes in the archive were dated sequentially, and though I quickly scanned each one for evidence of this event – or, indeed, others – my disappointment grew with each tape. When I reached the last one, hope expired. 5 6

Tom McCarthy, Transmission and Individual Remix (Jonathan Cape/ Digital Vintage, 2012)

McCarthy, Transmission and Individual Remix (Jonathan Cape/ Digital Vintage, 2012)


Dutifully, I returned to the beginning of the sequence, to November 1997, to listen to each recording in more detail.

I soon learned that, through immersion in thought, through simple omission, or something more superstitious, the Professor never repeated the phrase he had heard in its totality, concentrating instead on keywords, conjunctions, elements. I gathered that the voice had spoken two sentences, and two sentences only. One of the words in the first sentence was ‘tape’ itself. Another was ‘soul’. How these two words were connected remains a matter of conjecture on my part, but it is as if the Professor was, in his renewed attempts to talk himself through his experience and, most particularly, to record it on tape, assigning something of himself to the archive.

As tape followed tape, it became apparent that the Professor, rather than becoming more frustrated or agitated by his research, had regained some of his old equanimity. His tone returned to the authoritative baritone I recognised so well; he had once again assumed the persona of the senior research academic, although his methods and field had shifted considerably. The Professor recounted his further experiments in recording an empty room, but although he found some imperfections and noises that may have been grist to the EVP devotee, these had little resemblance to the voice he had heard in November 1997. Once again, the primary evidence, so to speak, in this case was missing from the archive. The box files only contained tapes upon which the Professor’s voice was present. None of the experimental tapes were available to me and nor, should I add for completeness’s sake, did I know what kind of machine Professor used in his recordings.


After I had carefully catalogued and annotated the complete run of cassettes, I fell into a period of introspection. If I had found evidence that the Professor had been growing increasingly deranged through his inability to account for the enigmatic voice, I should have organised a narrative, a personal history, into which this event fitted and acted as a kind of keystone. But instead, there was something of a long fade of interest on the Professor’s part. Making little progress, he had simply undergone, it appeared, the human processes of boredom, a loss of enthusiasm and energy, and ultimately his attention had turned elsewhere. Perhaps, concerned with his increasing blindness, he had simply forgotten about it. He stopped mentioning the event some dozen tapes before the end of the dated sequence, and even this became increasingly intermittent. The last recording offered no evidence that it was intended as a final entry, in March 2001. It seemed as though the gaps in time that separated earlier tapes opened and did not close, without deliberation or forethought. He seemed neither haunted by the phrase nor frustrated by its indecipherability. As the spool ran out on the last tape – in truth, only 20 minutes of its 90 had been used – the Professor, and my cataloguing project, disappeared into silence.

4. I searched in vain among what I could find in the Professor’s personal history to explain the appearance of the voice on the tape recording. I spoke to colleagues to try to understand whether the Professor had undergone some profound loss or traumatic event in the time immediately prior to the phenomenon. Apart from his increasing blindness, which may have occasioned a sense of loss (though little was evident on the tapes), no sign of trauma was apparent. He lived a settled life with few financial stresses, in a large house with his second wife, and his children were securely embarked on successful careers. He was a respected scholar in good standing with


colleagues and University alike. If there was no obvious psychological explanation, was the voice on the tape indeed that of a spirit, or one of the dead? Or something else?

Determined to understand, I turned to practice and process to create an experience that paralleled that of the Professor. In short, in possession of a similar tape recorder to his own, I set up the machine to record in an empty room, in controlled conditions, and returned after a period of minutes to play back the results. You will not be surprised to learn that my experiments were a disappointment.

I used the EVP techniques that I had researched: I asked questions of the room, and then left pauses in which voices, unheard by human ear, could be recorded; I played back the ‘silence’ repeatedly in order to identify the coalescing of noise into signal, hiss into voice; and I recorded some sections onto my office computer to analyse waveforms, to identify possible anomalies or words. But in truth, none were forthcoming.

Close to despair, I was at the point of defeat. I drew my notes together and prepared to deliver them. I sorted through the cassette tapes in the box files, ready to return them, and to my astonishment I found that the very last shell contained the inlay card, but no tape. With a sense of a trust betrayed, I searched my office, my home, for the missing tape. It could not be found. And then, as I was checking through my own recordings, I noted that one of the tapes was untouched. I was sure that I had used them all. Turning to the Phillips recorder, I opened the lid and found one of the Professor’s cassettes in the mechanism. I rewound the tape, and to my growing horror and mortification, I realised that I had recorded over one of the Professor’s own.


As I noted before, however, a peculiar technical quirk of this machine, a deficiency in one of the recording heads, resulted not in the erasure of the underlying material, but superimposition upon it. Muddied by overdubbing, the Professor’s voice was alternately befogged by the hiss of a silent room – my room, years in his future, beyond the span of his own life – or intermingled with my own voice.

And then I seemed to hear another voice, a third voice, in the gaps between our own.

It was indistinct. I recorded a segment onto the computer to analyse is waveforms, but although I could certainly hear a voice, I could make out no words. Clearly, the palimpsest-like overwriting of one time, one room, one voice with another had finally produced the conditions for manifestation. What I should do next, however, remained a thorny problem. I dearly wanted to try another recording – as I have said, this final tape of the Professor ran to a mere 20 minutes in length – but I felt it to be a betrayal of trust to sonically graffito, so to speak, another tape in the Professor’s archive. The only solution presented itself to me: as this last tape was already compromised, I would over-record once again, to try to enhance the possibility of manifesting the other voice.

My instinct proved correct. After the second pass of overdubbing, two observations could be made: firstly, that the voice clearly articulated two phrases, separated by short pause; and secondly, in the first phrase the words ‘tape’ and ‘soul’ could clearly be heard. I had stumbled upon the proper productive method by accident.


It would not be an exaggeration to confess that I feel that I have been vindicated in my approach to this project. My survey and analysis of the tapes will not end in failure. I will indeed find the missing phrase, and solve the enigma of the third voice.

Postscript Some weeks have passed since I compiled the foregoing report, and in this period I have completed at least a dozen re-recordings, followed by deep analysis. No further clarity as to the composition of the two phrases, nor yet individual words, have been made apparent to my satisfaction, but I am confident that I will soon make the breakthrough.

Of course, I have yet to return the archive of cassette tapes. To do so before investigations are complete would be a dereliction.

I have found myself increasingly uninterested in my former fields of research, and have turned from my somewhat disputatious and competitive relationship with my colleague and rival Prof. A Da Riza. These trifles no longer concern me.

Of the sonic qualities of the tape, I will say this, in short (my much fuller notes and speculations will be published in due course): although the voice of the Professor is now all but lost in the hiss and rumble, He is more present than ever. Playback of the tape is like entering into a chamber whose dimensions are indistinct, but whose depths are profound; a cube whose centre is everywhere and whose boundaries are nowhere. In those depths, the Professor and the


third voice exist. Through further recordings, I must push on, push deeper, to locate the true meaning of the words which have been spoken, and which will, in time, be revealed.



Mission of Jobbin A true bad story of Crime in Endland (sic) Tim Etchells In a house in Endland © (sic) there lived one man who over years turned into drink to drown his troubles. His main name was Jobbin but friend they also called him Votex or other things. The village or town he lived was built in a forest in a middle of nowhere by Communists as a train station and in the shitty local bar rooms only Saxophone still played and smoking or Vaping by customers was not allowed but generally tolerated. As was the fashion then Jobbin got called by his boss on SmartPhone and summoned to Central Office for what she (the boss) claimed was a important meeting. Jobin got a train at first means of transport and then a over crowded bus of white people and then had to walk on foot to that Office in snow that was turning to black mush and thin ice. The town streets were full of people that felt angry and useless and that ‘Life itself had became very bad’. At the centre of this feeling was the Central office. In through the sliding doors and up a not-working elevator of stairs to the 20th floor Office went Jobin, exhausted and oblivious to the sentiments and statements of others that he should mind the fuck out of the way he was going in such a hurry. Boss she said Jobbin that he (Jobbin) needed to go the North of Endland © (sic) where was based a regional office of that company, that he Jobbin apparently worked for, the name of which is not fully recorded in legend. Something was apparently going wrong there (at the regional office) with various things not being done proper and actions out of line up with the big and small data they collected. Jobbin (the boss said) needed to go there (to the office in the North location) to check it out; that was his (Jobin) mission and he accepted his blind date with true fate. Jobin smiled and nodded his head. It was like in that movie The Shock, The Heartbreak & The Pain starring Lee Remick and Brie Larson where Larson plays a privatised detective who is instructed to journey to an Island of Eden to find out the number for Walter Benjamin's Private Snapchat and Lee Remick is the one member of the community that has not been silenced by ‘the elders’ in a vow or conspiracy of total silence. On the way out of the (open plan) office Jobbin noticed that no one there seemed really to be working; many were asleep at their PC workstations or tablets and others were playing games on their cell phones and still others were watching disturbing videos involving the violent deaths of humans or chatting to guys, teens and MILFs on the webcam ChatStation Elektric from Ukraine, making comments on the exaggerated fake pierced tattooed shaved all natural bodyparts they all had or paying in coinz to have them take off another aspect of their impoverished improvised clothing. 23

* Jobbin warned his landlady that he had been called away out of town for a while on business and she said that he still owed her six shillings and sixpence from the previous month rent on the bedsit where no blacks/Irish were welcome, Jobbin being the one (1) exception to the rules. Jobbin paid the six shillings and sixpence plus a further one off payment of two guineas to secure the lodging until his return, he did not know how long he would be away and he had no desired at all to come back and find his full possessions in a skip, or burned or on ebay or none of the above. Next day Jobbing got another train, an electric one designed by a probably made-up man called Lansorotti Bacon (?). The train crossed the landscape in slowmotion making the names of the towns harder to read (for security reasons) because it was too hard to stay awake as you passed the signs it took so long and therefore anyone always missed some letters and could not be exact and sure of the placenames they went through or even the route. BMINHA he went past and VNIZI and DBONIC. Eventually the train stopped at a place that was an amalgamation of Hull and Liverpool created when, as the poets say, there was a crash on GoogleStreetView and those two towns were accidentally merged. In the inevitable rain and doubled darkness ™ of his arrival to destination Jobbin took a Hackney Carriage to the Waldorf through grainy B&W streets and went to his usual room what they remembered from a previous visit he could not remember and the Desk Clerk told him to leave his bags the servants would bring them up and did he need a reservation for the dinner that evening and Jobin said no it was OK he was going to rest up after a long time of travelling (8 days). In his room Jobbing checked the bathroom to see if anyone was hiding there and also checked under the bed and also in the many wardrobes and grandfather clocks arranged around the walls. He also picked out the phone and listened any noises on it and looked out the dirty window down at the street beyond net curtains where a line of taxis were waiting for the nearby ‘Star of Night Cinema & Multiplex’ to kick out and a steady stream of persons carrying umbrellas on the pavement were negotiating the flow of each other, all moving in the crowds and rain and clichés of an unknown town. Jobbin fell asleep on the bed, still wearing his overcoat and winter shoes and when he woke it was to the sound of voices from the street or room below. They seem to be talking about a recent (?) experiment with animals that had gone wrong or a complex case of Patent Law or a local footballer that had been punched in the face in a nightclub after calling one of his friends an 24

idiot, no one could be sure. Pulling himself away from the voices Jobbin tried to move but found that he was momentarily paralysed and as he lay there exerting all power to move he still could not and having no choice really, instead just stared upwards at the pattern of wallpaper and mouldings on the high ceiling, esp at the edges, where many many years of overpainting on the decorative coving had morphed and blurred the plasterwork details making it all somehow indistinct, the artists intentions (or whatever) lost and almost forgotten in the deep layers of time, time and trade price discount emulsion. Staring up there like a paralysed Jobbin fell eventually asleep again and then when he woke (the second time) he could move again and he got up and got ready to go out for dinner. It was only on leaving the room that he noticed his luggage had arrived from the indolent servants he had observed that made their home downstairs and that pinned to the top of his travelling trunk was a note written in a almost ineligible scrawl. Jobbin picked up the note cautiously and scrutinised it carefully over his glasses like a old drunkard scholar of Oxford College Cambridge, slowly deciphering his name from out of the letters that were impersonated on the front, opened it and read further inside. The note was a warning from a unknown stranger telling Jobin that he was in danger and being pursued and furthermore the person writing the note, what only signed a name on the bottom with a letter X, was instructing Johbin to an assignation in the Café Myopia on the Corniche. Jobin went back down the long way to the reception, took a carriage to the Opera, where, when the crowd was grown to its very very thickest, he switched cabs by subterfuge and went directly down to the Corniche. Café Myopia was a misery place with no likes whatsoever on Trip Advisors except for one glowing and highly unrealistic write up from brother in law of the friend of the owner that failed to mention the walls were all done sadly in the old grey décor and that the chessboards at many tables looked like they had not been played for years and several pieces from each chess set were blatantly missing. Jobin saw that there was no customer already in there so took a table near the back where he could no be observed from the street outside where from time to time carriages and ‘shourded figures’ (sic) slipped passed in the rain and the slow gloom. After a time waitress came over that looked from the colour of her skin and eyes and the difficulty of her breathing like she would be dead soon. Jobbing ordered a Frapuccino (as was the fashion then) and leaned far back in his chair as possible, eyes skidding around the room at the unappealing decorum and framed etchings of tropical scenes painted in a style of the late Kim Kardashian. It was only after waitress brought the Frappucino that Jobin noticed there was after all another person there in the Café Myopia - a figure seated in a booth on a far side of the room 25

what he had not seen at all before. It was a woman in her 50 years of age approximately and maybe about 5 ft 10 inches tall. Jobin made eye contact through the strange half-light of the Café and the woman beckoned him over with a specific expression of her face that seemed to be both a question and an answer. When he got over there she bade him sit down and Jobin did so and he thanked her for her note etc and she reassured him it was the very least she could do in the circumstances and he thanked her again, profusely and a lot, for her kindness etc until all the long ritual pleasantries of Endland (sic) at that time was totally satisfied. After that (one hour) they talked more normal. Jobin said he was looking for low down info about re the Regional Office and the woman was like she knew that already, she had been following the schedule she was familiar with it and his Mission and Jobin said OK he totally got it etc and so what could she tell him what was the score and she said yes she had something for him and at that point (in conversation) she reached into her unfashionable bag and brought out a ordinary envelope that she put on the table. Jobin reached for it and at her nod of approval he start to open it even but as he did so the door to the café opened and another customer came in and the tall woman stood up nervous very quick and before he (Jobin) could find out her name and wtf was going on she exited the Café Myopia by a exit he had no noticed at the back just by the toilet and the VideoJukebox. * Next day Jobbin began his investigations at Regional Office early morning but no matter how many times he went up to Reception repeatedly they always said man he wanted to see was busy or ill or still very busy or out on an important appointment or meeting etc or otherwise indisposed. Eventually - when Jobin had read all the magazines and played all the games on his smartphone like Rat Trap, Flat Shadow and Uproaria (sic) Cavalcade, until battery was dead - it was time to go home and the girls that appeared to run the reception area totally snickered at him one last time and requested him to leave. Several years passed in this fashion. Each day Jobing went the long way to Regional Office, walking as a kind of constitutional in all weathers by the canal and observing such burned buildings en route all pockmarked with bullet holes what happened during the siege. Then on arrival he sat in reception, taking always a same seat on the white leather and chrome effect ‘Moose Brand’ Budget Line Sofa (Argos £100) and got nowhere in his investigation whatsoever until he had outstay his welcome and long overdue to go home. Many times on his notepad in these years Jobbin doodled the words DEAD END. And many times he stood at the window of his room in the Hotel Whatever and thought about throwing himself out of it (the window) into the path of a tram. But somehow he persisted - sending long 26

monthly reports to central office each month that outlined his thinking and after each long day in the Reception of Regional Office spending his night poring over the contents of the envelope that the myseterious (sic) tall woman had given him in Café Myopia. On the papers he found within the envelope was all kind of info. mainly incl. columns of quite boring looking numbers and what seem to be pencil mark or annotations in a spider handwriting on each page but what it was all about he could not really say for sure or know. As time past year after year Jobing grew his hair longer, and beard and took no pride in his personal appearance looking more and more like a maniac recently released from a jail sentence rather than the legal representative of the Central Office. Dogs avoided him in their path. Receptionists were by and large indifferent to his questions. Meanwhile the door to his hotel room he adorned with a hand maid sign that said NO ENTERY and the walls and floor inside he covered in papers as mentioned above, joined and commentated with his own annotations and thoughts, as well as pieces of string, wool and tape that stretched in something like spider webs between the walls and other surfaces, linking between possible questions, post-it-notes, crossings out and theories on how to move fwds in his investigations, turning the whole room into a complicated environment that even he had to negogitate with utmost care. If there was a secret or story in the contents of the envelope, Jobin told himself, it must be here somewhere, contained in that mess and tangle right in front of his eyes but despite all his best efforts impossible to see. * Some weekends as the visit and ‘investigation’ dragged on Jobbin considered going home to the capital for a break of routine but he could not afford the MegaBus and stayed to work on what he called envelope documents. Spare evenings he often returned to Café Myopia armed only with his boredom and questions, sitting in the corner with one drink in front of him like a homeless sad man, waiting in vain to see if the tall woman would return. Late at night Jabbin would return back to the Hotel whatever it was called, slipping disappointed past the reception and the crowd of men generally laughing and lounging about in their uniforms of bellboy and concierge etc. It was after one such trip to Café Myopia that Jobbing decided to take a nightcap drink in Hotel bar he had not frequented before. Boarding a wooden elevator to 22nd floor he leaned on the walls while it ascended in slowmo, staring down his own reflection in the burnished brass and dirty mirrors, feeling like a film star, looking like a fool. As the elevator rose the Muzak played Last Waltz of the Night Brigade and How Deep Is Your Darkness by Mary Anne Boelyn (?) and also The Rudderless Jackass of Old Mexico and something that sounded like Splinters in the Eyes by Donkey Crotch. When it (the elevator and the song) eventually stopped he waited for 27

doors to open and then stepped out in a cold hallway the walls of which were unadorned with the pictures and other things that went up all around the rest of the hotel. From the far end of the corridor Jobbin could hear faint music, and what he thought were voices which he stepped towards, not seeing that behind him, from the very shallows of the shadows, stepped a person who struck him immediately from behind to knock him unconscious to the ground. Then it was ‘lights out for Jobin’ and no mistake. * Several more years passed where Jobbin was in a coma, of which not much is known beyond medical records of his intravenous fluid intake, blood pressure, bowel movements etc. Nurses and doctors in the hospital of that town came and went and the wards were slowly privatised, the part Jobin inhabited slowly asset stripped of all and everything but the bed and the curtains and an occasional visit by one of the older doctors not fully up to seed with modern day of doing things. It was the year of our lord [illegible] when Jobbin woke up. A handsome youth was by his bedside with pale skin and a haunting ambiguous expression in his face. Jobbin was confused and asked where was he and the youth replied the hospital, recounting as much of Jabbin’s story as was well known at that time – that he worked for that certain company, that he had come to town on matters related to Regional Office, that he had failed to get even an audience there with people there he needed to see and that receptionist there were laughing at him a lot. Jobbin was worried he might have lost his job or something but the pale youth assured him all was OK and that his wages were still somehow paid into his account all this time minus medical deductions despite the fact he was in an enchanted coma. Jobbin was so tired and much of what the youth said dint wake no sense. He tried to ask questions but after a short time the youth put his fingers to his lips (his own lips not that lips that were belonging to Jobbin) and Jobbin drifted back to sleep, awash in the stench of bleach chemicals and overcooked food. He dreamed of a fight between himself and a succession of sad looking middle-age people from post-soviet republics and then a strange forest that didn’t make geographical or any other kind of sense, then (in the dream) he was somehow back waiting at the reception of the Regional Office only everyone there looked much older and there eyes looked more empty and the walls had been painted another colour that was very hard to describe. In the Dream he was sitting on that white/chrome Argos sofa and all the time looking past reception to a door he could just 28

make out in a distance, where he know the Manager he needed to interview was probably working but he could not figure closely how to get passed the watchful receptionists etc. Long time (in the dream) he looked at them but it dint do no good. Next time he woke it was approximately a year (1 year) later. The room he was in was different – not hospital anymore and beside him was no one sitting, not the youth as mentioned before, only a small bell on a table that he stiffly extended his arm to pick up and ring it. The bell rang in the room and after a short time of Jobbin lay there waiting someone came in that he recognise immediately – it was the tall woman from the Café Myopias all that time ago. Jobbin made as if to speak but the tall woman bade him rest, also with a finger to her lips, leaving the room and then returning minutes later with tray incl. a bowl of soup that she offered to Johbin, a tasty dish of broth with all sorts of bits in it like frozen mixed vegetables. In the weeks that followed Johbbin gained back his strength and some mobility. Usually around lunchtime the tall woman came by and one of the servants came with some lunch for them both and while she picked at her food in a disinterested kind of way Johhbin ate it down heartily. The tall woman narrated her story how she was descended of prisoners who had been sent back to Endland (sic) by somewhere else, how she lived a long time in CATALONIA and how moving back to Endland (sic) she had got a job in retail, later moving to an employ in finance dept. the Regional Office. It was there (she told him) she got embolied in the story – noticing that there was some kind of corruption or anomaly to the bookkeeping that was hiding a flow of money out to somewhere else. She changed her name for security reasons and began a investigation and in that way gathered documents as appropriate and possible but her efforts was discovered and her employment terminated. It was only then that she contacted CENTRAL office to leak a report of her discovery and thus the start of Jahnin infective mission began. * Once Joabbin had full use of his limbs again he and the tall woman went long walks in the grounds of the Sanatorium (actually just house of tall woman). Tall woman told Jobin her name (Arisha) and they discussed on many topics that are not recorded. Then one day, as the poets say, it came necessary for her (Arisha) to tell him (Jhobim) her plan. First she ask him if he was willing to help complete his mission to bring down the corruption in the Regional office and Jabim said yes then she ask him if he remember the dream or any dream he had in the coma or whatever and Janebim said yes he remember the long dream about 29

being back in the Regional Office only it was all different etc and how he was staring at the door behind reception etc. (Arisha) told him he had to go back in the dream – had to train his self to sneak past reception in dream. Only then could he investigate as real world entrance to Office was closed it could only be reach through portal in dream. Jainbin was confused, arguing he was scared to go back in coma for that mission but she (Arisha) reminded him his contract and terms of service that he already agreed. * Back in deep sleep Š at first was nothing like what he expected to find. Gray light like in Damascus again. Monotone music without beat or melody. Walking hallway where nothing happened. Then he tried to open them (doors?) with the strength of his own bare hands but that did not work. Next he pressed alarm button or intercom that was supposed to connect him to reception but in the end nothing worked. . * Long time coma reception in strange colour walls. * Every once in a while there was a conference in the hotel, or large high society mid century wedding that spiralled out of the ballroom (?) to include all kinds of mayhem and drunken antics into corridors thus making it nearly impossible for ordinary hard working people to sleep and making other guests very restless. * J. explore a bit more of coma town, that was constantly thick with fog at that time, in vain hope he might find out something to help investigations. Friday night he stayed in and read a book (Airport by Arthur & Bill Hailey), also reading document of numbers the tall woman gave him on his first day in town. Only now the document had childhood pictures and writing, not numbers anymore. *


It was on ‘once such evening’ around May of the year [illegible] that Jobin decided to go back to Café Myopia again. Fragments of memory and overheard conversation: “an illness typical of that part of Endland © (sic) and…” “whip the animals until they are beaten is what our Frank used to say” “Clusterfuck” Laughter (receptionists?) draws a bright neon path across through the air. * Spent several long time in bed without leaving the room for no reason then slept delirious in four (4) days, body wracked with all kind of sweats and shivers, feverish feeling and tensions. Coma sweats. An anonymous hotel employee that he had formed a kind of ambiguous friendship in the previous years came several times banging at the door, insisting to bring a locksmith from the town to remedy the situation but soon there was such a commotion around in the corridor and Raised Voices from within and without, that security came and kicked the whole door down to plywood splinters anyway, dragging Jobbin naked but for his pyjamas from the bed and pretty much destroying his complex arrangement of numbers and strings, wool, tape, evidence and post-it notes to himself etc. There lay Jobbin at the end of this episode in tears ‘when the credits rolled’, his mission in tatters, hotel dissolving in rain, cheap door hanging loose from its hinges. * Far from being depressed by ‘illness’ and traumatical end Jobin was inspired by it and next day called home (the guest house lodging where he stayed) to explain a complicated vision and all numbers info he had found. Landlady said he should phone direct to work place not leave a message with her. Jaienbin said he could not speak long they only have given him one phone call maximum. Land Lady cry oh what happened to him, her favourite, her Jainsben, he said OK, OK he would be OK, he knew he had to die some time, he know he had to die, his name was under decay. Then the call ended and Lan Lady stood alone by telephone in hallway to cry. * 31

In Waldorf brand hotel room early morning they send in the deep cleaning team to exorcise his wreckage. Pushing all his notes, surveillance, paper work and theories into trash bags and taking to incinerator. In reception at regional they took out ‘Moose Brand’ sofa and burned it up also, all ceremonial. Jaisninbin dead in a room with two (2) blacked out windows. Crows outside on nonmanicure lawn. (Arisha) and youth at bedside. Soft curtains with elephant pattern and pixels, last words he spoke were in circles - ‘surrender, eternal’ - like he had lost a plot completely and Authorities asked him please not to continue. * In Endland (sic) those days the crime itself was very hard to thunder.




The Critic as Gesture or John Malkovich’s middle name is Gavin Maria Fusco

The critic as gesture is a frustration with exhausted modes of critical engagement within our elite, cultural world, expressed in writerly form.1 Gesture here is defined as an act that is is motivated.2 What is loitering behind the invocation of an act that is motivated are the subjects who are acted upon and the direct causes impelling such subjects, (ourselves), to experience a desire sufficiently pressing enough to affect scriptural change through our belief in simple marks on a page. 3 The obvious question this motivation elicits, therefore, from the mouths of first world textbooks is: What’s so wrong with the way I write anyway? An answer to this, understandable enough, question would be: I don’t like it. Another answer: The way you write is not precise enough. Another answer: Your job is to dismantle, not to build. Another answer: I don’t want to be colonised by you again. Another answer: You don’t own that, put it back where you found it. Another answer: The language of history is contagion, not antidote.4 Another answer: The way you write hides the way you write. Language-games must be accosted in each dark alleys in which they are lurking. 5 It is not sufficient to be able to simply voice a proficient echo of an historical form, (however hilarious this might be), because this demonstrates only proficiency. Whilst it 1

Audre Lorde. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, (New York, Crossing Press, 1984),

110. 2

Vilem Flusser. Gestures, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014), 56.


Giorgio Agamben. What is an Apparatus?, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), 10.


G.W.L. Hegel. Phenomenology of Spirit, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 116. 5

Ludwig Wittgenstein. Philosophical Investigations, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1963), 167. 35

is the wish of all of us who are self-conscious and precocious enough to want to be witnessed publically as being proficient, finally we cannot place trust in, nor shit from the great arse of this vainglorious instinct.

As with the physical action of employing a lever, it is essential to depress when we wish to elevate.6 Accurate navigation is a perilous, yet patent responsibility of the analytic enterprise. This invocation of navigation does not agree that legislative plans are always fit for purpose. Rather, navigation here describes precision of intent, exposing the ethical responsibility of the deeds of the writer to our reader, or if we are very lucky, to our readers, plural.7 It’s grand to live alone on a small island, tending our inky crops, as long as it’s possible for other folk to locate, and perhaps even visit, the island when we want them to.8 This is duty as mandate; this is duty as tax.

Thrift is the apt schematic here. Thrift trades sparse and tactful forms, not massreproducible cerebral mementos. Thrift is good example but not an example. Thrift is sensible. Thrift carves-up.

The critic as gesture is as diligent as a miser.

When constriction is applied to the wordage permitted by thrift, transubstantiation occurs: we are no longer shuffling marks on a page, on a screen, we are creating new beings.9 The role constriction plays is that of the joyful enforcer, (not of the tyrannical polemic), acting with contextual knowledge and candour.10


Simone Weil. Gravity and Grace, (Abingdon on Thames: Routledge, 2002), 84. 7

bell hooks. Remembered Rapture: The Writer at Work, (London: The Women’s Press,

1999), 42. 8

Flannery O’Connor. Mystery and Manners, (London: Faber & Faber, 2014), 53.


Sister Corita. Footnotes and Headlines, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967), 44 - 45.


Henri Bergson. Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, (Copenhagen & Los

Angeles: Green Integer Books, 1999), 29. 36

Consistency shares a little more than half of its letters with constriction. This is clearly an alphabetic coincidence but an apt one for consistency and constriction cannot be disaggregated. The two are mutually dependent at a technical level because insistent application and physical manipulation of both is required for new limber analytical topologies.11 Together, constriction and consistency make a pair of muscular thighs: our heads are happy clenched between these very thighs.

This desire for anonymity is a useful proviso against solely interpretive reading. Reading is essential to both the actual act of producing critical writing and the intellectual world in which it bounces. There is much we must try not to remember. There is much we must attempt to dis-author. In wishing anonymity in reading, we are also wishing it in writing. Resistance through anonymity is not a relegation of responsibility, rather anonymity creates commodious possibilities for others’ works and, in this way, anonymity permits our writing to exceed us, to exceed our own, limited, often class-based ambitions: to assemble.12

It is entirely possible that multiple voices chance on the same formal solution, this is agreeable if it occurs through happenstance, because then it demonstrates the right to assemble at one’s own will, the right to party.13

However, there is no prize for the best fancy-dress costume. We must not, on any account, hide behind those syntactic masks others want to rent us. Not masks. Forget masks. Great big fucking gilt mirrors. Understanding our teeming methodologies as

11 12

Lisa Robertson. Nilling, (Toronto: Bookthug, 2012), 12.

Judith Butler. Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, (Cambridge, Harvard

University Press, 2015), 68. 13

Emma Goldman. Living My Life (New York: Knopf, 1934), 56. 37

stroboscopic, we may apprehend only small moments, only our own small moments, not a linear historical discursive.14

We are always the stranger.


Giles Deleuze. ‘Helene Cixous or Stroboscopic Writing’ in Le Monde, 11 August 1972. 38



Towards a stranding Sarah Hymas

Beyond whiskers of saltmarsh and submerging slack the dead whale. She plouters from one side of the bay to the other to a mile or hour or breath away. Thrumming strangely pitched. Dusk takes root crimps skin. No moon: only windfarm lights blur and pixelate: red lures of electricity. Any one of us may lose navigational skills. Disaster: loss of guiding star.

I do not know myself as a mother, how different I could be: walking away rather than towards. It is too late to change my mind. Guttered by an ebb-tide leaching fertilizers infiltrating all bearings, I want to be enfolded by the night.


It’s all very well saying that, but it’s another thing when you’re dying. The worst imaginings pleat into coastal sediment and open ocean from my landfill. There are always other stories to tell.

Whales have been swimming fifteen million years. Her appearance here could be a measure of success. I won’t ask whose. She is too distant to gauge how much is softening in the slew of water. Her bones colonised.

I used to relish thinking I might be infertile. Made avoiding motherhood an ethical act. Slipping across algae, I cannot judge the rise and fall of seabed: of ocean temperature, salinity. Turn up the volume: stutter and rap.


Side on she’s white-flanked in the diminishing light in the wet-backed mud folding into creases of her whaleskin map unfolding. Flood pluming from river mouth to microscopic mouth into fasterthanafishcanswim mouth: particulates accumulate with every gulp up to the lipids that should keep whale buoyant. Not this one. Bloating. Dissembling.

I do not want to get too close. I do not want to stop. Stressed females breed earlier and later in life. I do not know if I could choose an abortion. For a while I took no chances: took pills, gambling on the loss of one species making space for another. So I said.


Deep in the dark, scavengers hunger for what reaches them. We all devour what we can. Filter feeders. Burrowers. Detrivores.

Closer my face furs. Methane. Salt. Drought. A sweetening too sweet cloying and thick sticking to lips. I seethe water: pollutants lactate down the pod efficiently as carcasses upcycle as fodder. Grief is circular swimming.

Whale without offspring

is my lack. I am the crackle of worms expelling oxygen from mud: flesh whittled by currents to somehow endure.

In the quiet rendition of water coiling every movement appears to recede every moment. How I might.

Muscled ground is my undoing. Fish bones and sealscrag scour my approach: I am ghost shrimp to whale. Whelk close. 44

Child calls for the curtained ripples to sleep: closing vibrations bind a global tongue the channel coupling us. We have few predators as persistent as those which permeate tissue. Stockpile. Disrupt ovaries buck biomagnetism. Looping up the chains to a tideline unwinding as if we can as easily unwind.

Feeling for where me and body fit and when we slide apart is a slow metabolism a question of who possesses who. Runnels of mud: gullies: arteries: everything comes alongside. And slows. A slower frequency registers shoals



Each line unable to reconcile the imperative to continue asking only to recall (imprint) the gliding of this night of utters and notches withdrawing arriving



It will be called Unicode Class Vernacular (UCV). Nathan Jones

The writing materials for UCV are 10,000 unique cards, each with a symbol from the Unicode universal database of character sets.

This is a presentation of and with these materials for a writing practice. Or a record of a game.

The cards were produced with a Processing script which took symbols from James Hass’ typeface Code2000 and placed them on a pdf with their descriptions according a sequence of hexadecimal codes defined on the website. These individually unique pages were then printed as business cards. It’s a facet of digital culture – perhaps one that lends itself to the neoliberal mentality – that 10,000 completely unique cards are as easy to print as 10,000 identical ones.


Although only 10% of the total Unicode set of sets, 10,000 is a sickeningly large number of symbols. Simultaneously highly potent and utterly disempowering as a writing material.

There are around 100 nonillion, or 1023 different words of between 2 and 9 characters possible in this deck. The same number as there are grains of sand in the Sahara desert. As there are 200,000 words in the English dictionary, this makes the odds of forming a word by chance vanishingly small, unless we account for verisimilitude. An encounter with the deck is an encounter with the maths of verisimilitude as poetry.

A semiotics in which the arbitrariness of the sign is encountered by the eye and countered by the mind. Because the mind is physical, which is to say bodily, as well as cognitive, this semiotics also operates at the point where the visual and the phonetic overlap.


Silence. Quiet.

As I play with the cards

I am thinking of Unicode as a global posthuman alphabet.

I am thinking of Class as an inescapable and fluid verisimilitude, the parameters for which we (and they) determine collectively.

I think of Vernacular as the symptom and method of class. And as a bias of the body, brain, tongue and skull.

As I play with the cards, I find a UCV class “no”, and a UCV class “face”




For the gif that I present here, the cards have been tumbled by hand. Declassified.

The most common shape in the box is that which approximates the O, zero, circle, nothing. The shape made with the mouth to whistle, roar, inhale and blow. But also the x, which is unpronounceable. Then the plosives.

When I am playing the game. Thoughts come to me about UCV. 50

What can be written with 10,000 letters,


all of which are different?



Writing in English with unicode cards is reminiscent of making one’s self understood in conversation when among the upper classes. All the sounds that are available to the habit hewn body can be spat out, but only those. All the words used to express aspiration and erudition are potentially recognisable through the noise of game birds bursting into flight, but only those.

All and only the scale of language that induces vertigo in the reception room.

Katherine Hayles describes code as the new unconscious of language. Unicode’s maps of the collective unconsciouses atomic structure becomes grostesque at the point it becomes free .

An encounter with unicode is one in which we recognise ourselves, and are rendered for how register what is foreign. Your own resolution tested and defined by the contact with this language, image that somehow forces its way across your palette as text.

For each character defined in unicode we find assigned a code point: a hexadecimal number that is used to represent that character in computer data, a number of empty and obscure fields


designated by semi colons, and a descriptor, which the person designing a font refers to when they drawn that character.

This line of text bridges the human and machinic components of the writing machine. Its colons are the glottal stops that fascinated the poet Paul Celan as the limits internal to language.



By this method, each character is given status within the whole, its unique history and material qualities rendered behind a hexadecimal code in preparation for its reduction into binary bytes and bits.


In fact, although overtly pan-global, containing all known alphabetical systems currently in use internationally, unicode is perhaps primarily pan-temporal. Much of the work of unicodes mechanisms are spent finding space within the system for extinct alphabets. Researchers seem to have just reached the bottom of this churning process. Proto-cuneiform is the oldest known script, in use as early as 3500 BC in Sumer, modern day Iraq. Wikipedia tells us that at this point at the beginning of history the Sahara begins its “desertification”. The first zoo is founded.

From the box of cards, I am as likely to draw an A as I am to draw CIRTH LETTER UU, a glyph from the imaginary language from Tolkein’s fantasty novels, now in use by enthusiasts and academics. Or BLISSYMBOL ROTATED JUMP, a character from an ideographic writing system invented for people with communication disabilities. Which is to say, a 1:10000 chance. Removing the character from the code declassifies it, turns it into a purely visual, or bodily phenomenon.

Bodies, even and perhaps especially this body that straddles the difference between Welsh and English body, the intellegencia-n, the middle, the working class body, contain more versions 54

of sound than a single standard set of glyphs can encode. As narrow as my oral vocabulary has become by its long relation to the world of letters, I am still more potent in speech, surely – as language does not render pitch except spacially. I feel that the box of glyphs stretching back to the dawn of history, and outward into imaginaries and parallel languages such as Bliss, might approximate the capacity of the body which is not infinite after all.

This potency, although materially larger than that of any single alphabet, or the languages these alphabets are used to render, is within the grasp suddenly.


The poems made with unicode flicker between the all of the massively potent symbol system and the nothing of the empty signifier.

In this sense, I re-perform the improbabilities involved in speech comprehension as I play here. The gulf between ecstatic sound and silence, into which we speak when we speak across the boundaries of class, local and generational vernacular, our speech emptied of significance.


Class vernacular is an horizon of sand in which we push liquid with our tongues, up to the sea. / I feel the surfaces of the mouth and throat when I try to read what the cards are telling me.



ENVOIS XX Letters from JL to SK 1972–1973 Sharon Kivland

I 21 November

With the passage of time I learnt that I could say a little more about it. There was no doubt why, with the passage of time, I am still here (encore) and you are too. I never cease to be amazed by it … It is precisely because you suppose that I begin from a different place than you that you find yourself attached to me. Our path progresses only due to this narrow limit, this cutting edge of the knife. I am first of all going to assume that you are in bed, a bed employed to its fullest. I won’t leave this bed today. What I am going to do is begin with what remains veiled in law, namely, what we do it that bed, squeeze each other tight. Enjoy! I am leaving you to your own devices on this bed. I am going out and once again I will write on the door so that, as you exit, you may perhaps recall the dreams you will have pursued on this bed. Love, of course, constitutes a sign and is always mutual. I put forward that idea a long time ago, very gently. Then what is involved in love? Love is impotent, though mutual. Don’t talk to me about 59

women’s secondary sexual characteristics. Nothing distinguishes a woman as a sexed being other than her sexual organ. Right now I am going to illustrate it for you. Nothing can be said about it except through dead end detours. You know quite well that what I say about love is assuredly that one cannot speak about it. You see the risk involved. It is clear that I cannot withdraw.

II 19 December

Things budge, things traverse you, things traverse us, things are traversed, and no one notices the change. Nothing seems to change. I’m talking about the serious real. In truth, we will see that we must turn things around––but we haven’t reached that point yet. It seems to me that this could lead to a smile, a stupid smile, naturally. I don't want to spoil such pristine purity. Today I’m dragging my feet. As is emphasised admirably by the kind of Kantian that Sade was, one can only enjoy a part of the Other’s body. That is why we must confine ourselves to simply giving it a little squeeze, like that, taking a forearm or anything else––ouch! Enjoying has the fundamental property that it is, ultimately, one person’s body that enjoys a part of the Other’s body. But that part also enjoys––the Other likes it more or less, but it is a fact that the Other cannot remain indifferent to it. Occasionally something even happens that goes beyond what I described. Jouissance is not a sign of love. When one loves, it has nothing to do with sex. And that is what I would like to end with today, if you will.

III 9 January

I am going to enter very slowly into what I have reserved for you today. A letter is something that is meant to be read. But it is not the same thing to read a letter as it is to read. That is what I check when I look back, which I never do without trembling, at what I have proffered in the past. That always makes me awfully afraid. Afraid of having said something stupid. It’s quite simply being at someone’s heel, being at someone’s beck and call––what would have been if you had understood what I ordered you to do. We speak of fucking, and we say it’s not working out. This relationship, this sexual relationship, insofar as it’s not working out, works out anyway. A man seeks out a woman qua––and this will strike you as odd––that which can only be situated through discourse, since there is always something in her that escapes discourse. You are not obliged to understand my writing. Of course you’ll never be able to write the sexual relationship. What is nice about what I tell you––don’t you agree?––is that it’s always the same thing. 60

IV 16 January

What can I still (encore) have to say to you after all the time this has lasted? The first time I spoke to you, I stated that jouissance of the Other––the Other I said to be symbolised by the body––is not a sign of love. I said love aims at being. What makes up for the sexual relationship is, quite precisely, love. It must, it really must, it must last longer (encore). It must, with the help of this feeling, lead, in the end, to the reproduction of bodies. ‘We are but one.’ The idea of love begins with that. I myself began with that because it affected me quite a bit myself. It could affect anyone, moreover, couldn’t it, to realise that love never makes anyone leave himself behind. You let slip by the fact that I said that the letter designates an assemblage. The course I will try to steer will show you where love and sexual jouissance meet up.

V 13 February

The first sentence I wrote down this morning when I woke up, so you would write it down, sweeps away the opposition between an other satisfaction and needs. You heard me right–– failing, deficiency, something isn’t working out. Succeeds in what? I can tell you the answer, now that I have, I hope, managed to bring you to the point: succeeds in making the sexual relationship fail in the male manner. The epithalamion, the duet, the alternation, the love letter, they’re not the sexual relationship. They revolve round the fact that there’s no such thing as the sexual relationship. It’s obviously been giving me a hard time. There is a male way of botching the sexual relationship, and then another. It fails. That is objective. The failure is the object. There is the good, there is the bad, oh la la! How are we going to express what shouldn’t be/could never fail with respect to jouissance? That makes the very absence of the sexual relationship a bit harder to bear. There you have it. I almost regret having, in this way, said enough, which always means too much. For woman, something other than object a is at stake in what comes to make up for the sexual relationship that does not exist.


VI 20 February

For a long time I have wanted to speak to you. I have been refused this satisfaction. Another satisfaction is the one that answers to the jouissance that was barely required, just enough for it to happen between what I will abbreviate by calling us man and woman. It justifies my saying to you that reading in no way obliges you to understand. You have to read first. If it is a question of reading, I have never been so well read––with so much love. But that goes too far. Why not have faith in you? But it is clear that you not only do not make one, but have no chance of pulling that off. I love the person I assume to have knowledge. You saw me stall, back off, and hesitate. I didn’t stop myself. So let us try to push ahead. Now, if there’s no such thing as a sexual relationship, we must see in what respect the jouissance of the body can serve a purpose here. There is no chance for a man to have jouissance of a woman’s body, for him to make love, without castration. What he approaches is the cause of his desire. That is the act of love. To make love is poetry. Women content themselves, any woman contents herself. I don’t want to end up talking about putative frigidity I believe in the jouissance of woman insofar as it is extra.

VII 13 March

You may think you know everything. Don’t. I can only assume that you will recall my statement that there is no Other of the Other. I need but to speak to you of love. But what does it mean that I have come to such a pass as to speak to you of love? You cannot even gauge the import of this. I wrote from the only place where it is possible to speak of love. To speak of love is itself a jouissance. What was I, in the end, writing for you? The only thing one can write that is a bit serious––a love letter. I soulove you, you soulove. You see here that we can rely only on writing, especially if we include ‘I so love soulove.’ The soul’s existence can thus be thrown into question––that’s the right term with which to ask whether it’s not an effect of love. In effect, as long as the soul souloves the soul, sex is not involved. Sex doesn’t count here. A woman can love in a man only the way in which he faces the knowledge thanks to which he souloves.



20 March

I would really like it if, from time to time, I had a response, even a protest. I left rather worried the last time, to say the least. It seemed altogether bearable to me, nevertheless. That’s my way of saying it was very good. I must go on. One knows nothing of love without hate. True, that doesn’t seem the most desirable thing to mention. I wasn’t too happy about having ended on that note. Yet another thing restrains us: the fact that jouissance is a limit. Love itself, as I stressed the last time, is addressed to the semblance. To me it essentially introduces a point about which we must be suspicious. To retain a congruous truth––not the truth that claims to be whole, but that of the half-telling, the truth that is borne out by guarding against going as far as avowal, which would be the worst, the truth that becomes guarded starting right with the cause of desire. The sexual relationship doesn’t stop not being written. Nothing more. The truth, then, of course, is that. Except it is never reached except by twisted pathways. We are not even semblance. Knowledge is worth just as much as it costs, a pretty penny, in that it takes elbow grease and it’s difficult. Difficult to what? Less to acquire it than to enjoy it. One has but to look to see that it falls flat. I think you must have an inkling now. I beg you not to too quickly associate this with so-called messages. I am going to tell you a little secret. I don’t think either love or hate ever killed really anyone. If libido is only masculine, it is only from where my dear woman is whole, in other words, from the place from which I see you, that my dear woman can have an unconscious. We remain stuck.

Postscript 13 April

It is certain that nothing is said. How to say it? That is the question. One cannot speak any old which way. I don’t know what I can do. One makes a gesture and then one conducts oneself like everybody else. I’m speaking for myself. To be hysterical or not––that is truly the question.

IX 8 May

I think of you. This does not mean I conceptualise you. I love to you. I think of you. Weren’t you expecting it? You see what that would lead to. How long will it last? The body should 63

impress you more. A body, yours or any other one besides, a roving body, must suffice unto itself. I don’t speak to you casually, to waste my breath. Naturally, you have to watch out. Voilà. The whole business of matter and form––what a load of old claptrap it suggests concerning copulation! Regarding the status of jouissance, we must situate the false finality as corresponding to the pure fallacy of a jouissance that would supposedly correspond to the sexual relationship. But there is nothing lacking here. If copulation isn’t present, it’s no accident. I will even go a bit further––don’t think I don’t mete out what I say to you. This is clear in the very practice of sex. In order to feel good, one must withhold one’s cum. We managed to achieve a state in which a guy correctly fucks his ‘one gal’. The economy of jouissance is something we can’t yet put our fingertip on. It would be of some interest if we could manage to do so. We may have a slight chance of finding out something about it, from time to time. I would tremble. Why shouldn’t we find something that gives us a glimpse of something precise? Well, let us leave that chance to lady luck––encore.

X 15 May

I don’t know how to approach, why not say it, the truth––no more than woman. They constitute the same conundrum. As it turns out, I relish the one and the other, despite what people say. We are still caught up in the insufficiency of knowledge. It is what directs the game of encore––not that by knowing more about it, it would direct us better, but perhaps there would be better jouissance, agreement between jouissance and its end. We are dealing with something that cannot be found anywhere. Does that enlighten you? In any relationship of man with a woman––she who is in question––it is from the perspective of the One-missing. What is at stake for us? What would that be in the end? The conditions of jouissance… And that which is counted––what would that be? The residues of jouissance… The real, I will say, is the mystery of the speaking body, the mystery of the unconscious.


XI 26 June

I wasn’t sure, I must admit. I spoke a bit of love. What is the body? Is it or isn’t it knowledge of the one? I won’t pursue that point. All love is based on a certain relationship between two unconscious knowledges. There’s no such thing as a sexual relationship because one’s jouissance of the Other taken as a body is always inadequate––perverse, on the one hand, insofar as the Other is reduced to object a, and crazy and enigmatic, on the other, I would say. Isn’t it on the basis of the confrontation with this impasse, with this impossibility by which a real is defined, that love is put to the test? Regarding one’s partner, love can only actualise what, in a sort of poetic flight, in order to make myself understood, I called courage––courage with respect to this fatal destiny? But is it courage that is at stake or pathways of recognition? There is an impossibility therein. It is also that nothing can speak it––there is no existence of the sexual relationship in the act of speaking. But what does it mean to negate it? Here there is nothing but encounter, the encounter in the partner of symptoms and affects, of everything that marks in each of us the trace of our exile––not as subject but as speaking––our exile from the sexual relationship. Isn’t that tantamount to saying that it is owing only to the affect that results from this gap that something is encountered, which momentarily gives the illusion that the sexual relationship stops not being written?––an illusion that something is not only articulated but inscribed, inscribed in each of our destinies, by which, for a while––a time during which things are suspended––what would constitute the sexual relationship finds its trace and its mirage-like path in the being who speaks. I won’t take things any further here. It is love that approaches being as such in the encounter. And true love––true love gives way to hatred. There––I am leaving you. Shall I say, ‘See you next year’? I’ve never ever said that to you. For a very simple reason––which is that I’ve never known, for the last twenty years, if I would continue the next year. Will I continue next year? Why not stop the encore now?



The first set of letters in this series was written for Emily Beber’s book The Bodies that Remain (New York: Punctum, forthcoming). I was distracted by Derrida’s envois in The Postcard to an unnamed beloved (whom one may perfectly well name now as Sylviane Agacinski), which led me to an early seminar of Lacan, his teaching on the training programme of the Société Française de Psychanalyse, following Freud’s papers on technique. In my careful reading and re-writing of Seminar XX, Encore, on love, knowledge, and feminine sexuality, I have removed all that psychoanalytic theory, while retaining Lacan’s words (and his alone––I have added nothing, I avow), as eleven love letters, envois addressed to me by my beloved JL, continuing the course of our love affair that has endured for over twenty years. And yet, well, and yet, all that remains, nonetheless, as my master breaks the silence.



Farewell Terpsichore – an improvisation on smiles, shadows and breath Doris Rohr

Via Appia. The Heat. All outlines fuzzy, shapes dancing, vibrating in the dusty air. These were strange creatures, fantastic, some shaped like columns, some with large dark black crowns. Resinous. Mysterious. At their feet were cones, sticky to touch, larger than anything at home, more tactile, with more spaces for her little fingers to explore: in and out.

She had thought about standing up to look, but was too tired and too thirsty. Apart from that she had been told to wait. So wait she did. Crouched on the earth. Her mouth ached. She had a loose tooth she continued to fiddle with, passing the time. I am trying to think back into my own head. A small girl’s head, more than forty years ago. Finding myself filling the gaps with projections rather than memories. All I have is the bare outline: a family of seven, father, mother, two brothers, two sisters. A summer holiday. Italy. Rome. A visit to the antiquities. Walking along Via Appia. Being tired, too tired to walk any longer. Too tired to stand. Being the youngest, all others stepping ahead, having more energy, coping better.

Here I am filling in again. Projecting on what I know or think I know. No mere outlines but interpretation. She can’t recall the waiting being painful. There is no resentment, there was none. She can’t remember being in a panic or in pain, beyond knowing that this tooth had to come out, but she didn’t want to let go. Frightened to pull it or to have it pulled. (Later the motherly Italian landlady of Villa Forresteria succeeded over the failed attempts of her whole family to remove the tooth).


Doris Rohr (2006) Cypress pencil on paper


Perhaps she was more tired than usual, because later on during this holiday she became ill. Rubella? One of those infections children get. She became confined to bed in a hotel in Palermo, not understanding, nor appreciating the blood red colour of the orange juice she was served. A treat! Her family’s miscomprehension about her lack of appreciation. Having to swallow large pills her father tried to disguise in small sections of banana.

A news item in June 2016 reveals that in Japan parents had left behind their boy at a roadside rest. Alone he soon got lost in the woods and was only found several days later. I don’t really know what to day. It resonates. I can see why these things can happen, even if no good. I feel unable to join the tirade against the parents.

A while, a few hours perhaps not even, a few minutes perhaps, but it must have been hours, her dad came looking for her and found her on the spot where she was left behind. Was it that her parents simply not notice her absence until much later, engrossed in studying the antiquities of Rome? Did she imagine to have been told to wait?

Dad praised her for staying in the same spot, for not wandering off. A happy ending. It felt good to be praised, to get the attention. Or at least that is what she suspects she felt.

The next day perhaps, or some time later during the holiday, her dad bought her a medallion. A Greek muse. She danced, and was carved out of multicoloured shell. Terpsichore. She treasured her and wore it all that holiday. Or that’s what she thought she did. Or that’s what I think she did. She kept that trinket until one day, her and her boyfriend’s flat got broken into and the few items of jewellery she had owned, were stolen.

Nearer to the beginning of their journey, in Venice, her brothers and sisters tried in vain to teach her good taste, but she insisted on her parents purchasing the gaudy plastic moulded model of a gondola, complete with multi-coloured fairy lights. The tasteful black wooden model 70

that came on her brothers’ and sisters’ recommendations, was rejected (probably with little girl tantrum), like the Sicilian red orange juice. The gondola plugged into mains and rested on her bedside at home, after their return, sending her to princes’ sleep for many years to come.

All these, fuzzy images in a slideshow. Shadowy pine trees, cypresses, interspersed with a smile by an Italian landlady. No clear pictures emerge, but that of a photo my mother took of me and dad, standing at a Southern Italian harbour wall, dad taking my hand, my head covered in a head scarf. I look tired and grumpy. Dad looked Italian with his black sunglasses. He holds my hand. The awkward angle perhaps a projection in my redrawing of this scene? The person behind the framing of this photo: my mother, the onlooker. What a gift for composition. Me, the daughter, taking it as legacy, substituting mother’s milk she was no longer capable of giving. Perhaps this the meaning of viaticum Jacques Derrida refers to (2001, 64) – those gifts which are handed to us after the person who originates it has passed away, a delayed gift, a substitutional gift, that stands in, though surely does not embody (?) the absent person. My protestant upbringing betrays me. Embodiment. Little faith.


Doris Rohr and Ingeborg Rohr (2010) untitled pencil on paper, co-authored of sort, my mother took the photo, I reproduced in above drawing many years after, after her death, as an act of paying respect to her absence, her double absence – the negative space implying its originator.


I remember the figure of Terpsichore, more so its touch to the finger, the lightly raised surface of the white shell revealing the amber coloured shell below as background – Terpsichore’s negative space. The space to dance in, waving her garments. Moreover I remember the silver chain and its delicate segments. Then the fairy lights glistening amongst the false gold of the gondola’s canopy; the old-fashioned plug of which my brothers said that it was made of Bakelite, no longer safe, in need of rewiring.

The tactility of memory, the real memory in contradistinction to the memory retold by others, the false memories or appropriated memories, the constructions of one’s self Sigmund Freud let the analysant whisper into his large hearing ears. Sigmund’s unconscious structured like the city of Rome. The Freud Museum in Hampstead archives Sharon Kivland’s the fabricated evidence dreamed up on Freud’s behalf (Freud Museum , 2007). These photos are shadowgrams, evoking Atget’s photos of Paris Walter Benjamin so admired. Kivland’s photos are in black and white, and appear older than they are, as if of a different time. They evoke the empty streets of Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, when Isak Borg, the ageing professor, stumbles through depopulated streets, puzzled by clocks with timeless faces. Long shadows. Streets that remind me of a city in a hot climate at noon. Or a western shantytown with the bandit at large. Not Sweden. Ingmar, the son of a priest.

Neither word, nor image, certainly least the false precision of the photo can substitute experience. Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, they scratched until the white support of the photographic paper revealed what photos are, fake memories. Is that too hard? Maybe not fake, but incomplete ones – so much left out. So then what happens? The image is substituted by a wall of words, like chain armour: maille. Making the vulnerable soft body inaccessible. The words shatter, and are just what they are, another pretence. Another layer disguising the truth. And that is unreachable, it’s not an absolute truth, not the truth of philosophers, but the subjective truth of subjective origin. No capitals. It is recognition. The unfamiliar face of the self in the other.


Octavio Paz’s magnificent elucidation on the act of seeing resonates: “Seeing is an act that postulates an ultimate identity between the seer and the seen.” This is how he begins. To then describe with poetic vision the misapprehension that recognition is, bringing to my mind Jacques Lacan. So very soon this illusion of recognition makes way to another insight, in Octavio Paz’s words this is where “[t]he eye retreats.” Mostly we tend to close the gap, this fault line, or “crevice”, as he refers to it, by building “bridges”, again Ocatvio Paz’s words, not mine. Bridges of language. This bridge building is futile, so it seems. Certainly as a means to discover, recognise, find truth. Henry Michaux, the subject (or mediator?) of Octavio Paz’s musings on seeing, remained stoically fixed to look down the abyss. “What does he stare at? The hole, the word, absence.” (Paz 1977, 6)

Let’s stop here. Here again the negative space, the formless, the undecided, ambiguous and amorphous, to approximate the meaning of seeing. Seeing what? Looking as an act of recognition becomes unreliable, meaningless. “Looking becomes a negation, an asceticism, a critique.” (16)

There are no certainties, least of those of language. Seeing with its prophetic inner eye supersedes looking. Henri Michaux’s courage is to abandon the self, to make way for vision. This an act of the supernatural engaged with the mortal identity of the self, here the artistprophet. But with Michaux this is a “struggle against phantoms, gods and demons.” (18, my emphasis). For or against, the wrangling with gods is an act of possession, of mutuality. Being possessed by the divine. Jakob wrestling with the angel.

Christ contemplating god’s

abandonment at Golgotha. A black negative space, a vacuum of faith, absence or presence, invented boundaries, as the reality is perforated, light piercing shadows, shadows enveloping light, faith’s other: it’s negation.

Absences creating presences. Jacques Derrida talks about the moment of not seeing, the blink, as necessity for seeing in Memoirs of the Blind. Blindness and Seeing. Drawing on absence.


[T]he thought of drawing, a certain pensive pose, a memory of the trait that speculates, as in a dream about its own possibility. Its potency always develops on the brink of blindness. (1993, 3) “Drawing, writing, what expeditions, what wanderings, and at the end, no end, we won’t finish, rather time will put an end to it.” (Cixous 1993, 16) Indeed, Hélène, writing and drawing your “twin adventures, which depart to seek in the dark, which do not find,” (17) are also mine. Not finding: because there is too much light, too much to see. Closing my eyes to let the darkness unfold presence. Not finding because wide eyed. Image writing letter text, this splitting into separateness it’s stopping me from finding. Henri Michaux, you knew about this all along. And you found:

As soon as I begin, as soon as a few colours have been set on the sheet of black paper, it ceases to be paper and becomes night. […] I come to blackness. Blackness takes me back to bedrock, to origin. […]

That without which light loses its fascination. In countries that bathe in strong light, such as the Arab countries, what one is affected by is shadow, living shadows, individual, wavering, pictorial, dramatic, imparted by the feeble flame of the candle, the oil-lamp, or even the torch, other losses of this century. Darkness, cavern whence all may arise, where all must be sought. (Michaux 1987, 38)


Henri Michaux (1960) Mescaline Drawing, ink on paper, 32 x 23.9 cm Gift of Philip Johnson, Museum of Modern Art New York, Object Number 789.1969


What a drawing, this multi-faced brain, you, Henri Michaux, dismissed Rorschach tests, never seeing anything of any importance in them, and intuitively knew to avoid symmetry, this brain in flight over the deserts to reach a destination only known to your body’s memory. Henri Michaux, when you write about painting, drawing, about making images, you sleepwalk into that night, swift brained, “putting part of oneself to sleep”, migrating an unimaginable distance soaring above the wind, leaving behind language. All this changes, so you say, once you soar into that sky of paint, it “strangely decongests”: The word factory – thought-words, image-words, emotion–word – giddyingly is drowned and so simply. It is no longer there. The sprouting stops. Night. Local death. Gone desire, eloquent appetite. That part of the head which was the most concerned, grows cold. (41) You surprise yourself. And then later – when the time will be ripe as you say, that promise: “What an experience it will be… having gone into the habit of thinking in signs, we are able to exchange secrets with a few natural strokes like a handful of twigs.” (69). Or will we? A handful of twigs, a sparrow’s throw, the weave of thickets, inversed, the brains of trees tossed about by wind, anchored in soil, all the time a neglected neighbour’s dog howling into the emerging darkness of approaching solstice.


Doris Rohr (2016) Trimingham (again) pencil on paper


Will we ever be able to slacken the straights of language, to walk tight in between words and sounds, over the abyss of having to represent? What exactly? But you who so much were able to overcome the duality of phonemes and ideograms, you loved language as much as one loves an old lover, knowing too well all what is wrong and bores one and one wishes riddance of, yet one cannot live without. It requires habit, that thinking in signs, and so, Henri Michaux, are you not exchanging one old lover for another one to grow old? How else can you form a habit with signs, unless you are beginning to bore each other a little? It’s a sloughing. You explain. You promise: release, liberation, exhilaration, and “disencrustation” so that (s)he that follows your example “be able at last to express himself far from words, words, the words of others”.1 I see a crab leaving behind its armature, soft skinned for an hour or two while its new coat is stiffening. Vulnerable to predation. Then, like snails, snakes and all beasts with exoskeletons, until a new coat has grown, all is up for grabs. Mindful not to end up in a shark’s belly, or worse, in a responsibly sourced tin can floating amongst the oceans. (Apologies, Jacques Lacan).2 Does the can smile? (Who has the last laugh I wonder?) So why so afraid of writing? Is it the loss of voice Roland Barthes speaks about (“writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing.” (Barthes 1977, 143). Is it that you, Henri Michaux, mediating that loss of origin through making images, imagening? Did you, having lived through catastrophe, did you have to reinvent art, the habit of art, art in the living, to mediate all the Whoever, having perused my signs, is led by my example to create signs himself according to his being and his needs will, unless I am very much mistaken, discover a source of exhilaration, a release such as he has never known, a disencrustation, a new life open to him, a writing unhoped for, affording relief, in which he will be able at last to express himself far from words, words, the words of others. (Michaux, 1951) 1


Lacan’s sardine can is a fisherman’s story, a parable. Lacan (1978) narrates an event where fisherman

Petit-Jean points out a floating sardine can in the sea, with the comment that it didn’t look back at him. Lacan disagrees. Beyond illustrating Lacan’s theory of the gaze, it could also be regarded as an environmental parable, as looking into the canned eye of the hunted acknowledges responsibility. For a summary on Lacan’s gaze see Josefina Ayerza: The subject that is an object, that is the gaze, is outside: you are looked at, you are the picture. Lacan's sardine-tin story throws light on the issue of the ‘all-seen’ subject, now splitting in search of itself, now diving, now reduced to zero (Ayerza)


unspeakable, that what silenced those who survived, both victims and persecutors, unable to speak, unless prompted in the courts and even then, the laughter of non-comprehension: Hannah Arendt you knew about it (1963) about the non-regret; and then those who were beyond regret, those who stubbornly rebuilt for a future, which as we know has now grown cold and even better now, it is no longer cold or hot, but in the past, perhaps. So ink flowing, stains staining, fat moulding, blood even, for you Josef Beuys, but for you Henri Michaux, the price of rationality, shutting down one part of the brain, letting it go cold, to enable the swift brain to let you lose. On your migration. Yet, the speechlessness of the late 1940s gave rise to new signs, the ideograms of a generation already breastfed in automatism, in dream sequences, in hallucinatory experiences. The signs, the secret script we kind of understand without having to tell – no literal transcription is required – we recognise the erasure, the undoing of knowing, and I recognise my childlike scribbles, the imitation of adult writing, the code of grownups, I also recognise this in all those cast nets, bycatch included, (crabs even). Nets of signs, neither representation nor sign, just repetition compulsion. (Incidentally, thanks to Wikipedia, that which is too common and democratic to be quotable in serious academic text, thanks to this commoner’s agency, bycatch is defined as “either of a different species, the wrong sex, or is undersized or juvenile individuals of the target species.”


Anon “Impfbuch” for Doris Rohr ‘countersigned’ by Doris Rohr: “I recognise my childlike scribbles, the imitation of adult writing, the code of grown ups”


We become blind to what we see and don’t notice what is. How the sound finds it visual realisation on the page once one put the hooded lid over the eye. How the eye becomes liberated to let the hand go off the leash – playing, running, storming. Isn’t that what Henri Michaux sought to find? The act of labour of not finding - a search for balance of forms resembling script or alphabets, forms created with absence to word meaning, also not signs, but annotations. Tapping into the un-selfconscious in the sense that through both word and image, through drawing and writing, artists wanted to appropriate. Cast the net – that net again - into the elusiveness of subconscious processes. Ikarus/Absalon. Absence/ the plain Soaring sky. Nowhere to hide Unless: oblivion. Ikarus, or Buried but eyes. Flounder. Presence/ the thicket. Nowhere to run. Obstacles. Shelter. Unkempt. Absalon (31st May 2017)


Alastair MacLennan (undated) torn pages from diary, gift to Doris Rohr.


A collection of notes, scribbles, primordial, regressive, erasing legibility or advancing to a code we all know yet cannot be translated. My pre-mature ‘writing’ before I knew writing (the Impfbuch, a child’s vaccination record) effacing the parallel voice of authority, doctor’s signatures and validation stamps, is simply this: drawing emulating script. Josef Beuys’s withdrawal - writing turning drawing – performing while drawing, often for hours, is a deliberate choice to shrink the dominance of verbal language. Drawing as an extension of the body. Of its movement or arrested movement. Drawing like breathing. Alastair MacLennan’s performances exercising duration in arrested motion - motionlessness3. The undoing of appointments in his diary. Erasure of events. This torn from his diary - a gift when seeking a conversation over green tea. Alastair telling me of his initiation into becoming a true artist after taking lessons in Zen, to seek through living. This is about about undoing time. Henri Michaux, you knew that drawing is duration.

Instead of one vision to the exclusion of others, I wanted to draw the moments which end to end make life, to show the inner phrase, the worldless phrase, the sinuous strand that unwinds indefinitely and is intimately present in each inner and outer event. I wanted to drawing the consciousness of existing and the flow of time. As one takes one’s pulse. Or again, more modestly, that which appears when, in the evening, the film which has been exposed to the day’s images, but shorter and muted, is rerun. Cinematic drawing. (Michaux, 1957/1978, 98)

In an interview with Alastair MacLennan Nicholas Stewart teases out the complex relationship between the non-material practice of performance and the role duration or arresting motion in MacLennan’s performances, and the importance of Zen in directing MacLennan’s practice. Drawing, as for Josef Beuys, is a dematerialised practise for MacLennan, part of the body, and part of the rhythm of existence. “Drawing is breath”, MacLennan told us in a lecture given to University of Ulster Staff and Students in 2017. The diary pages were kindly given to me when spending a little time with Alastair MacLennan drinking green tea and supping pea soup in the Merchant Hotel on the 10th April 2017. Drawing here defined as the moment of erasing the events of a notebook or diary, not necessarily a deliberate conceptual act, more a way of re-using paper spent once in a different way (Stewart, 1983) 3


Josef Beuys 1967 From Mainstream, double drawing: pencil and fat stain on two double sheets of graph paper, folded. Ludwig Rinn Collection.


“For me it’s the word that gives rise to all pictures.” (Beuys, quoted in Koepplin, 1988, 9) There is no finite outcome, only a chain of ideas. This flexibility and tolerance for formulation and reformulation is also shared with poetry and literature. Josef Beuys’s speaks about drawing as imprint, and such, if understood as legacy, as having left an impression in the viewer, or reader, is more conceptual than material. Even though materiality is implicit, it is the resonance of an artwork that is its true imprint. In an interview with Bernice Rose Beuys suggests that Drawing is the first visible form in my works…. The first visible thing of the form of the thought, the changing point from the invisible powers to the visible thing… It’s really a special kind of thought, brought down onto a surface […] You have also incorporated the senses… the sense of balance, the sense of vision, the sense of audition, the sense of touch. And everything now comes together: the thought becomes modified by other creative strata within the anthropological entity, the human being… And then the last, not least, the most important thing is that some transfer from the invisible to the visible ends with a sound, since the most important production of human beings is language…. “ (Rose 1993, 73) Yet Beuys’s understanding of language is the voice, and the use of written language is not restricted to an alphabetical understanding. His use of signs in his drawing is diagrammatic, characterized by what is neither gesture, nor drawing, nor text, or all of it in a multilingual, postor pre-linguistic dimension. Beuys’s fascination with language as a system that unravels itself, is evident in the body of works that accompany the performance Hauptstrom (Mainstream) (1967) a ten-hour performance in an isolated space involving fat and objects.


Sandra Johnston detail of Breathing Backwards in Archiving Time & Place: Contemporary Art Practice in Northern Ireland since the Belfast Agreement, Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown 2009. Image Š Sandra Johnston


Drawing as illumination is mediated through the body. Sandra Johnston’s drawings are performed drawings. In Breathing backwards language is emptied of linguistic or semiotic references, reduced to the elemental, the primordial. The reference to breath homage to Josef Beuys, as for Beuys, as for MacLennan, drawing is breath. As Ann Temkin puts it ‘Beuys’s attitude toward drawing implied it to be as intrinsic to him as breathing’ (Temkin, 1993, 27) So the body performs – repetition, breathing, moving, gesture, control of space, in space of environment as much as on the space of the paper, as all drawing implies its negative space and lives through it. Negative as defined as other, as that which needs to be internalised to make meaningful sense out of everyday life experience.

The writer Heinrich Böll, friend of Josef Beuys, collaborator of sorts to atone the past, painstakingly scouring the soil so riddled with blood for the rhizome of fascism, left behind by the trials of “Entnazifizierung”, that incomplete weeding exercise by those allegedly allied forces. Heinrich Böll makes his character Dr Murke, a professional sound recorder for radio, collect silences, splicing the tape to remove air time, and reconfiguring them into a tape of silences, sighs, whispers, breath withheld, emanated, exhaled, inhaled. The spaces of nonspeaking. (Böll, 1992, 37 - 55).

Breathing without words: sighs Sighs without sound. Emptied speech. Edited.

Drawing: writing without words. Overwriting Unwriting.

I am struck by Derrida’s comment of sight being breath. Breath is life. If sight is breath, and if our capability to see is impaired, as we are blind or partially blind to perceive fully, then we constantly hover at this threshold of life/death. […] Derrida, in the paragraph about breath, talks


about his own illness. Coincidentally (but there is no coincidence for Derrida), he had suffered from a rare virus resulting in one of his eyelids not being able to perform its important blinking function. This led to facial paralysis. He describes the “loss of the ‘wink’ or ‘blink’, therefore this moment of blindness that ensures sight its breath” (Derrida 1993, p. 32). Derrida muses over the kinaesthetic explorative ‘gaze’ of contemporary science where sound and wave patterns explored the lack of sight in his affected eye. Any medical attention brings us to contemplate mortality as we become the subject of such detailed interrogation through instruments and machines, and the human end receiving these data to help us back to health (Rohr, 2016, 195).

Drawing in its use of white space mediates between the said and the unsaid. Illegible, using symbols, drawings can operate on a similar visual or symbolic, even ritualistic function, as words. Is a handwritten word a drawing, or can a drawing become a word? What is the name for this nethering?


Doris Rohr (2017) testing (ink on paper)

Doris Rohr (2016) Notebook page


Exercising my fingers I walk them across the page, marking the paper on my journey. Walking my eyes across the maze of black symbols on a white page, letters become images in my head and I envisage buildings, arches, mountains, moss, rocks, ridges, refuges, weeds, debris, litter, waste, islands, arms and angels. A passage.4

The impossibility of agreement of meaning – a doubted faith in transparency of language. We know how to doubt. The ambivalence of writing as trait and drawing as trait (Jacques Derrida) allows me to consider my handwriting, the notes and annotations in my sketchbook, my journal that to equal measure contains graphic representation in symbols and letters, and drawings of a descriptive, representational nature. Drawing, it digests, transforms my understanding of text distributed by others into a language of my own, my own babble that in turn needs translation through words. Moreover, drawing makes text out of sense and experience – it compresses space, time, the third and fourth dimension, like the novels do, into a congested edited field of marks. One leaves far more out than in. Even Marcel Proust’s search for lost time left out millions of seconds. One cannot write fast enough to catch the moment.

Indeed, Hélène Cixous, time puts an end to it.


Ibid, p 58


Doris Rohr (2007) Devolve pencil and feather and gesso on paper


The many deaths. Death of singularity. Of the image, of the text. Of the author. Of the genius. Of the maker. Of saints, martyrs, gods. Of loved ones. All is co-authored. The network of relations, underground. Roland Barthes’ photo of his mother in the winter garden, withheld from the reader, so you can fill that gap with your own mother in a winter garden? A picture constructed through words, or rather its ambience is set somewhat shadily and it is fuzzy, like a memory we cannot fully retrieve, or a dream at the periphery of consciousness; an overexposed image, or one that has become unreadable with time. An image as bright and stark and almost illegible as Sharon Kivland’s fabricated evidence of Freud’s Rome.

He refuses to insert his mother into the space of the not-represented wintergarden. Who refuses? Me? Derrida? First he refuses, refutes, the possibility of writing an epitaph for a friend (in the Work of Mourning). Then he writes what seems to me an apologia, because writing comforts, temporarily, it soothes, it covers the paper, perhaps it helps him to cope, I think, projecting what I do onto him, no longer there to refute my projections.

I do not put myself in his place, I do not tend to replace his mother with mine. Were I to do so, I could be moved only by the alterity of the without-relation, the absolute unicity that the metonymic power comes to recall in me without effacing it. He is right to protest against the confusion between she who was his mother and the Figure of the Mother, but the metonymic power (one part for the whole or one name for another) will always come to inscribe both in this relation without relation. (Derrida 2001, 58) When Derrida writes on Barthes, this eulogy, it takes the place of a long exposure. Barthes’s mother becomes substituted with the non-representativeness of the son Roland Barthes. He cannot be summed up. The man he knew and loved, the man he recalls mostly during travels, face to face or side by side I shall not make of this an allegory, even less a metaphor, but I recall that is was while travelling that I spent the most time alone with Barthes. Sometimes head to head, I mean face to face (for example on the train from Paris to Lille or Paris to Bordeaux) and sometimes side by side, separated by an aisle […] (55) 93

- he describes as if a shadowgram. Like the son Roland Barthes longing for his point of origin, the centre of his life, his mother, consumed by love and respect, and painful realisation that the image he wants to preserve slips through his hands, a reflection at best, rendered unintelligible when the hand touches the surface of that reflection, a ripple of small waves. “The image of the I of Barthes”, this is how Derrida characterises the complexities of friendship - as much projection, as much as the text is the product of the reader, so forgive me Roland Barthes for paraphrasing you so lightly, so is the character, the memory of one who is loved and departed, an inscription in the other. As the one who survives one reproduces the textual entity of the person lost. Not lost, remembered. I add, without asking permission of either of them, that one reconstructs that text that is the lost other, the one who has left. Permutations of something that seems essential in the core, yet – like everything – on a bad day one has a different picture than on a good day. Yet perhaps Derrida’s understanding of friendship is more constant, unwavering. Yet, if the text is as much the construction of the reader, (this holds equally of the picture being understood, received, in the viewer, or music performed being completed by the listener), than so is the memory of a person beloved, as a text, an epitaph, an image not reproducible in its entirety, and nothing can replace, substitute or perform this adequately.

So the enigmatic mother, not Mother, yet perhaps so, mediates this non-tangible complex characterisation of the friend Derrida offers as his “gift” (50): Ever since reading Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes’s mother, whom I never knew, smiles at me at this thought, as at everything she breathes life into and revives with pleasure. (36)

Ultimately as Derrida knows, and so he quotes his friend, ultimately language is insufficient to speak of the other’s significance, (“the frivolous insignificance of language”), as insufficient as the image (“the suspension of images must be the very space of love, its music.”) (43). Mazes of words decomposing into lines. Scratches. Affiliations. Rhizomes. Umbilical. 94

Doris Rohr (approx. 1984?) Leaf skeletons pencil on paper


John Ruskin, drawer, writer, performer, preacher - let me get a word in for you, here at the end, as you seem to know already. Let me dedicate a drawing to your method of teaching seeing: leaf skeletons. Rhizomes. Maps. Networks. Affiliations. Miniature mazes. In Joseph Hillis Miller’s words on Ruskin all this nethering on words and images foretold, precluded by you: Ruskin makes the distinction [of word and image] problematic by relating both words and pictures to the primordial material act of scratching a surface to make it a sign. That sign, Ruskin suggests, is always a miniature maze and is always connected to its context by labyrinthine lines of filiation. [‌] For Ruskin, not only are signs always both verbal and pictorial, but also any configuration of signs has a temporal and narrative dimension. (Miller, 1992, 75) The Shadow. It landed first With widespread wings. Enlarged by the oblique Angle of the morning light. Shafting. A moment of relief: To see the clean neat White plumage of the Bird, Following. Catching its own shadow. United.




Nowhere to Sing Chimene Suleyman 10 January 2017. Bushwick, Brooklyn “The girls are all grown up: One is pregnant and expecting her first child. The other is just like you — ‘happy’ to be alone.”


30 January 2017. Court Square—23rd Street, Queens I almost miss it. A week later the doctor says I am all back to normal. I don’t agree. Standing outside, in the same place, I blame myself. Just say goodbye everyday.


1. 4 February 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn And I sat empty for weeks. It sat empty for weeks. I have filled it with my hijabs. They were always far more peaceful, and beautiful.


2. 6 March 2017, Manhattan It eats you alive, really. You learn to have a kind of resilience to this place, where

you are never quite sure if you are proud of yourself for surviving it, or just fucking

sick of having to. The old white woman in the clinic this morning is telling the waiting room that she was a dancer on Broadway. Ballet. It smells of hair salon. The woman beside her chews gum so aggressively she is approximately three chews away from

being thrown out of the window. I can’t limp fast enough to escape the man trying to

sell Jesus to me. Get well soon, he says instead. Sometimes I just want to be sitting in a fucking old man pub in Stepney thinking about dogs. But New York eats you

alive. And I can't really imagine for too long being in the stomach of anywhere other than this fucking city.


3. 7 March 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn I arrived not knowing where my people were — without ever really knowing who they

are. They play Spanish music in the bodega, for it is far easier than singing our own songs. In the evenings he sells me Parliaments and knows I won’t take the matches.

For a moment he turns the music off and it is as though I imagine the call for prayer.

“Where is it coming from?” This, a whisper. Near the door, an old man with a portable radio that plays the ezan. You are collecting your people quietly, secret handshakes in a country that doesn't want us to see each other. He smiles tonight, and puts the matches back. “I see you, tomorrow.”


4. 8 March 2017, Court St—Borough Hall, Brooklyn I am trapped in a revolving door, with a limp, wondering what the fucking point is. I

once dated a man who told me real New Yorkers know the right of the pavement is

for walking, the left to overtake. As if I am meant to believe New York deserves any kind of order, or sense to it.


5. 13 March 2017, Court St—Borough Hall, Brooklyn A woman is prizing a chicken wing out of her chihuahua’s mouth and all I am thinking is, I bet that don't even taste as good as the number 11 at the halal chicken shop in Westferry. “Go masjid,” the guy working there would tell me every Eid, but I could

barely be arsed. My therapist asks why I walked out of the bar, pretending to smoke,

but really I left altogether. I say it is because I am jealous of white women who have been shown they can simply sit there and know they are good enough for someone. She asks what I hate the most about myself. I say that I am not white. That it is

harder here than it ever was back home. We weren’t so cocky there. Maybe it’s cos the empire fell, she says. Maybe. She says it would all be less painful if I loved

myself as much as I hope others can. I wonder what the fucking point is, when you can’t even find decent chicken shops in the ends.


6. 28 March 2017, Bed—Stuy, Brooklyn On a road in Queens, outside the clinic, I screamed — I think with it went my words. To be dead inside gave new meaning. Women lose, I think: our love, money, safety, our bodies, our babies, our homes, our sleep, our fucking voices. You are not

someone anyone should be with, the message read. I am inside the clinic. He is

inside my home, taking from it. Maybe I’m not, I think, but I’d still like my shit back.

At least I am not a thief, I say to my mind, at least I didn’t steal, and with that their fucking words. I have tried to write but largely cannot. I walk to the anxiety of being

useless now. What if my career is gone, I wonder because — simply — I cannot write anymore. A journalist emails to say she is a fan and can she interview me for an

article in the Independent. I don’t tell her I feel a fucking fraud now. That I have not known what the fuck to think for two months. That some people are shit, and others are better, but really that’s all I’ve got these days. Listen, at least I didn’t steal your

fucking words. The first night I spent in my apartment, I slept under my coat on the living room floor. Some months later, she will bring water, count each tablet that I

need when I lie in the same place. Thank god, I think, it is her here. I just want my words back. There is a place on my living room floor that knows every story.


7. 3 April 2017, Court St—Borough Hill, Brooklyn You are used to weaponising words, she says, but does it always work for you? Not really, I laugh, it mostly just fucks people off. My therapist asks what I think other

people have that I don’t. I am in a new relationship, I say, and someday someone will have him too. New York is unedited in how human interaction plays out. A man

stands in the middle of a busy road and cars drive around him. He is immovable, and doesn't seem to care.


8. 5 April 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight, they say. They locked a dog in the community

garden in the rain. Pregnant — I wonder if he thought we didn’t have a use anymore.


9. 6 April 2017, Times Square, Manhattan New York has taken my accent. That is to say, I use that voice I keep for the

industry, for fucking publishing parties, for white peoples I don’t know. Just call them fucking sneakers straight up, save yourself explaining what trainers are — no less, gone are the days of wearing creps. A man barges and I wanna call him a chief

without mans thinking I’m elevating him. Do I get angry to remember what hooped

earrings and Finchley sound like, I wonder. No matter. In my headphones she sings, Don’t you run when you hear the sirens coming.


10. 12 April 2017, Court St—Borough Hall, Brooklyn Where do you go when you time travel, she asks. I am standing outside the clinic

screaming. I am always standing outside the clinic screaming. She says it is fine to remember, but not continually re-live. When you start to travel, she says, you must

make yourself present again. Feel the chair you are sitting on, the smell of the room,

the voice of the person next to you, come back to life. New Yorkers will step out into

the middle of a busy road to cross it. How nice, I think, to do this and have faith that you will reach the other side.


11. 26 April 2017, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn We were at our happiest in Saudi Arabia, I tell her. The lifestyle, ironically, seemed easier for a young family. But we left to bury my grandmother, on my birthday no

less. What did you do that day, she asks. I played ‘houses’ with the graves, I say.

Went around each tombstone and invited them to have dinner with me. It wasn’t so

happy back in London. It wasn't so easy. Dad sliced his fingers almost entirely off with a circular saw, so couldn’t work. It is one of my best memories, I tell her. It meant he had more time, it meant he picked me up from school, arm in a sling hanging under

a long camel-coloured raincoat. I tell her when I go to North Cyprus, I take flowers to all the graves that look like no one comes to visit. I suppose, I am still inviting them to dinner.


12. 12 May 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn She asks, do you ever think about moving home. I say, all the goddamn time. Only.

when I’m there it doesn't entirely feel like home anymore. The life I miss doesn’t exist, and anyway, where are the UK Garage nights now? But know that when I am sad it is always the Wetherspoon’s in Stepney I think of smoking outside. The walk to Mile

End station. The N20 to Finchley that inevitably our boy is always smoking a zoot on the top deck of. My house in Bed-Stuy has suddenly stopped feeling like a home once more. I don’t know. This fake English pub at the end of my road, and the

barman says, I bought most of your drinks when you cried in here. He gives me a shot. What the fuck does home even mean.


13. 18 May 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn And he points at my arm and asks, Is that your oath? And I am worried. And I am in

America with it on display like this. And he raises his t-shirt to reveal his own tattoo — a crescent and star across his chest. And he says, I’m Muslim, sister, we’re everywhere, salaam-alaikum, alaikum-salaam.


14. 25 May 2017, Finchley, London I doze on the sofa to Turkish TV. Mum wakes me with a plate of dolma rice, with the knowledge that I make it when I am homesick in Brooklyn — though never as well as she does. I do not like the swords on your tattoo, she tells me, and I laugh. In the background dad is shouting at the news, Denize dusen, yilana sarilir.


15. 26 May 2017, Finchley, London When dad’s chemo finished, he put decking down in the garden so mum could make North London look like North Cyprus. I try to nap the jet lag away but dad is saying that sparkling water tastes like 7-Up without the 7-Up. I laugh too much, too grateful to be home.


16. 29 May 2017, Camden, London I don’t want to say I’m angry with you, he tells me, but I am cross you moved away. And I never wanted to be a weekend dad, that’s not what I had planned for my

children. But I got no one to say this to now you’re elsewhere, cos you were my

panic button, but now I don’t got one. Yet, we’ve pushed people away that we love

because we were angry about losing a child. Still, you're calmer now, I tell him, the

frustration gone for the first time in years. And I remember how hard it rained at the

funeral, how I wouldn’t dare look for long at his face. He says to me — I still tell my

son all my secrets. I go every few weeks cos, you dun know, trust, he takes that shit to the grave.


17. 31 May 2017, London Bridge, London Dad was 13 when he did his own tattoo, so he couldn't deny his nationality in the

Cyprus civil war. Mum is annoyed with me because I am laughing at an entire news

feature on Turkish TV about olives. What next, I ask? A segment on hummus? A sis

kebap crisis? Was it wrong we brought you up in this country, she keeps asking me. I don't have the answer to that. Sometimes I think yes. Thing is, dad is telling me, you

know you fearlessly survive it all. After all, he says, Turks are the kind of people who check for a gas leak with a lighter.


18. 7 June 2017, Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Brooklyn You seem happy, she says. I am, I tell her. Always struggled feeling disconnected from England, but going home I realised I might be English, whatever that means. London, certainly. The kind of people who run from terrorism with our alcohol. Whatever I thought I’d lost, I say, I don’t suppose I really did.


19. 15 June 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn How do you know how to pronounce ‘suhur’ and ‘iftar’, he asks. Cos I’m one of yours, I say. I don’t fast cos I drink. Yes, but you’re still one of ours, he says.


20. 12 July 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn The bar at the end of my road is not a memorial. Nor is my old apartment a few roads away. Neither, do I walk past the wall in China Town another kissed me

against, and continue to belong to that moment; how I thought this one will change

my life, and sure as shit, didn’t he almost. It is not nostalgia tourism, and yet, if I had been the one to cheat, would I take the one I had done so with to a place meant for us? Your belongings still in my home. I chew on the thought of poetry nights anyway — the start of my career, ingrained in ones identity, and isn't it perverse to shit in a

space you know I have simply always gone to heal in? What happens then, when a room full of people of colour read of the very whiteness that broke us up — that is known to have broken much more historically. Does she turn to you then and say

thank you for the date, the entertainment, the theatre, the performance? As though that is all our race and religion are to those who buy tickets to watch us hurt on

stage, then pay for your skin, your dick, to accessorise with. Perhaps you will sit in a bar with her, one you only know of because I took you there. Perhaps you will

remember this; sat beneath the window talking child names if ever we — no, this is not nostalgia tourism. I shan’t go there. If I were crazy enough I would sit in the Caribbean restaurant I took you to, and wait to see her follow behind. They are

leeches, my friend says, stuck sucking on the shoulders we have carried them on.

Using our words, and thoughts, and knowledge to impress the ones they fuck behind

our backs. Listen, none of this matters. I listen to a Kate Tempest poem, and what is it she says? Don’t fall in love with me / I will write about it. No matter, my love, take

them all to recycled memories. Some of us turned those — and the past — into careers anyway.



21. 22 July 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn It catches my eye as I open the fridge. Forgotten these few weeks. We will both play

the lottery, he said, owed our time to be lucky. Yet, hadn't he already met her, hadn’t he already known my luck ran out. And so; I think about one particular photograph.

He is in my gym, a peacock, against my punching-bag, posted as bait for her. Does she know this was my home? It is my home I keep thinking about. The one thing I

have lost before in every sense of the word. A month back, only a month; my hand in his beside the kitchen counter, facing the lottery ticket pinned to my fridge as a

reminder of the end that had already come. How he wished he hadn’t behaved as,

how it had only been ego, ego, fucking ego. Do you tell her that too? My home. What do other people have that I don’t, my therapist once asked. And I said it then, did I not. One day they would have you too. Does she know she will not find home on your skin? No matter. We have seen how lies colonise homes before.


24. 21 August 2017, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn Do not give flowers — she will become her own grave.


Contributors Brian Baker Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies. Tim Etchells Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies. Maria Fusco Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies. Sarah Hymas Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies. Nathan Jones


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies. Sharon Kivland Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies. Doris Rohr Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies. Chimene Suleyman Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras nec quam vel nibh egestas posuere. Curabitur non turpis eget ligula suscipit vehicula a non magna. Pellentesque erat metus, aliquet id aliquam at, vestibulum sit amet ipsum. Vestibulum arcu felis, auctor ut tempus vitae, rutrum porttitor risus. Curabitur sem velit, lobortis sit amet lorem sed, luctus suscipit justo. Sed vitae sagittis ligula. Sed pharetra in tortor vitae ultricies.

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