VSK PROJECT: SISYPHUS, OUTDONE. Theatres of the Catastrophal [EXTRACT] by Nathanaël

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm




§      If there were a concordance between the place of birth and the place of death,


§      The photograph makes more of disavowal. For example: “I admit to closing       more books than I open.” [51] It disavows the line and it draws a line. A face, for example. It is not that I cry, but the summary made, by the photograph, of proximities. The face, for example, driven into its pain. And the impression (sense) of leaving with one’s eyes. As though looking were a form of desistance. Mine, first, because I am the one looking.


§      Between the mailbox and the train is the attendant question: is it possible to photograph the sound of the train. To move the sound into a frame.


§      Posed differently, I might scratch with Christine Lavant at the little door, “tandis que je gratte à la petite porte, /


§      mendiant dans la ferme des souffrances.” [52] The transposition to a different key.


§      In time. [53]


§      Thus creating the following tautology: I might scratch with Christine Lavant at the little door, while I scratch at the little door. The erstwhile hinge is tandis que; it groans as does wood that is swollen.


§      Ferme, which is close, close. The close of sufferings. Misindicating the substantive in favour of other, mitigating, proximities. That ferme might also signal a trap door in a cement floor, at a particularly vexing moment of redirected intention.


§      A translation is not a tautology. It is something else.


§      Doubled (over).


§      Nor is it citation.


§      The fantasy of (this) translation is that it is repeatable.


§      For example: “Your voice lingers here in the fore-cast.”


§      No assurance is given as to the qualification of the sound as it is scratched onto the retina.


§      The eye itself is not sound. [54]


§      A complete set of small green encyclopædia. Each of the XXV volumes is green and each spine has gilt lettering and is imprinted with the outline of the Empire State Building. All XXV Empire State buildings fit into a small box, which is carried comfortably under the arm for several blocks. Published in 1931 [55], they occupy approximately two linear feet of floor space, and are each four inches tall.


§      Tautology: the Empire State Building is inaugurated in 1931. The encyclopædia account for this. Which is to say that I invent it.


§      I invent the concordance in and of the present.


§      “And here the time of memory is precisely the time I am describing.” [56]


§      Gunpowder green tea in this America.


§      It is the concordance which invents [57] the present.


§      The sound and the rail line. The low wall and the fence, clipped in places, allowing for unauthorized foot traffic. Covered over and clipped again, such that the fence bears visible stitchings replenishing holes which are less visible and apt to disappear. The distances are altered precisely by these alterations. It is then possible to posit the disappearances of the walkers who walk in anticipation of these breaches. The removal of foothold and course.


§      Over three kilometres of undocumented passage multiplied by the number of traversals.


§      Thus: “I know what I am looking for without […] having to exist.”


§      Wittgenstein’s injunction – the having to – corroborates his certainty. What is obliterated with the knowledge of what is sought is the self-seeking. To my unsound eye, the repeated phrase, “what I am looking for” is excised from the page as I tender it to myself, removing ontology from view leaving certainty (alone). The reinstated text translated by Raymond Hargreaves and Roger White renders: “I know what I am looking for without what I am looking for having to exist.” In the time lapse, delay, the corrected version reads wrong, and it is the negative which remains: “without what I am looking for.”


§      The concordance is in: without.


§      Then what is the relationship between obsolescence and the negative?


§      “When other socialist countries discarded Marxism-Leninism as a way of life, the GDR ceased to exist altogether.” [58]


§      In a falsely posed problem of improbability, two people carry one body through two doors. Understood thus, one body is transported with difficulty by two people. The body is the body of a person, carried first through one door, then another. They disappear with the body, past the turnstile. After, they are there again; it is the same body. The person is not dead to begin with. First, there is a person, then there is a person, dead; the bearers of the dead do not know it. Neither at the beginning nor at the end. They are carrying a person. I watch as they do this. They enter, go out, the body is so big, bigger than itself, so heavy, heavier than itself, a leg drags, the bearers falter. Back and then forth. They go through the swinging door, the pair of glasses on the face, knocked askew.


§      A door open in two directions at once.


§      I made wishes for each of the horses, and drank green tea, and wrote you ardently.


§      The body functions as its own anachronism. To posit a temporality is a way of overlooking time.







[51] Absence Where As, 13.

[52] Christine Lavant, Un art comme le mien n’est que vie mutilée, 208.

[53] I have just this instant come upon the most wonderful concordance; the unwitting compression of the English phrase “in time”, yields the French: intime, which means intimate – adjectivally and substantively. That intimacy could be – is – substantive – // self-existent – // there is tea now in the unbroken pot; (From a letter, sent. Henceforth, unattributed quotations are indicative of such letters.)

[54] “não compreendo o olho, e tento chegar perto.” Hilda Hilst, A obscena Senhora D, 21.

[55] The same year that Geli Raubal, Hitler’s niece, committed suicide. Wittgenstein, 18.

[56] Wittgenstein, 18.

[57] –contrives.

[58] Karl Gernot Kuehn, Caught, ix.


This is an extract from SISYPHUS, OUTDONE. Theatres of the Catastrophal by Nathanaël, to be published in October 2012 by Nightboat Books.

More about Nathanaël’s work here. An extract from The Middle Notebookes is on VerySmallKitchen here.


  1. Excellent use of language to not only question its own validity as a means of discourse, but also as a shaper of knowledge.
    Subtly and strong.

    Excellent work!!

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